Detail. All the most famous and prolific artists, visionaries, and geniuses have attention to detail – some a little too much. (I’m looking at you, Steve Jobs) But Zach Saginaw, a.k.a. Shigeto, is well aware of this fact. His newest album, No Better Time Than Now, tries to experiment with layers upon layers of instrumentation and showcase his attention to detail – all while mixing his ambient production with jazz, hip-hop, and a small bit of minimal dubstep.
Nothing about the album is easy or simple – you definitely have to pay attention and really listen to this album, otherwise, you’re losing a major part of this album’s message. This isn’t an album you just put on for background noise. There’s a lot of different types of instruments, genres, and styles being used all over this 11-song album. Shigeto utilizes a plethora of all of these all over the place – it’s very much like a recipe of ambient + anything.
But it all starts with some smooth jazz. “First Saturn Return” lounges with a beautiful, spacious synth but rises to all kinds of intensity with layers and layers upon layers of synths buzzing. But the track dies back down immediately, and the record spins off into the next track – anti-climax. “Detroit Part 1” (where’s part 2?) shakes its way into a solid beat, with huge bass hits and thirteen other different noises clicking in and out of the next thirty seconds. The melodies of this track are particularly infectious.
“Ringleader” beeps and boops into your brain, chiming incessantly like ten windchimes twisted together to make some cacophonous insanity. As the track progresses, more things are added and taken away like a surgeon operating with all of his tools. Throughout its six minutes, the track wildly blends all of the various sounds of hip-hop, jazz, and ambient – out comes this. “Miss U” welcomes back the jazzy hip-hop feeling, and is another reserved, well-coordinated track that smoothly transitions from one melody into another with ease and emotion.
Shigeto’s entire album of a paradoxical, conundrum-esque journey of styles is something that’s not super easy to pull off. No Better Time Than Now can be viewed as an ambitious, but ultimately above-average approach to mixing these styles with some avail. The second half of the album is somewhat lackluster, sounding much like carbon copies of earlier tracks. What’s incredibly disappointing is how close Shigeto really is to a breakthrough – No Better Time Than Now is close to a great album, but it’s flawed in its existence to experiment, ultimately experimenting a little too far. By no means does it make this album bad, but, considering the entire second half, there’s a lot of missteps.