Sigha, HF029

[Hotflush Recordings]

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Plenty of producers migrate away from the sound that initially made them famous, but James Shaw, aka Sigha, has been drifting from dubstep practically from the moment he burst onto the scene. It’s worth noting, of course, that Hotflush and Paul Rose, the label and mastermind who launched his career, have been following a similar trajectory. But while the high-end peak-time tunes Rose makes as Scuba/SCB and releases on his label still skirt bass music’s periphery, Sigha increasingly sounds like he doesn’t want to touch any of that stuff — or practically anything remotely in dialog with dubstep for that matter — with a 30-foot pole. As colorless and unrelenting as anything Ben Klock’s taking from continent to continent these days, the music of Sigha circa 2011 shows a guy officially gorging himself on “ssgs” and entering the techno zone. And yet his latest EP bears a Hotflush catalog number, as does the work of decidedly un-techno folks like Sepalcure and Lando Kal. What’s going on here?

All that sticky purple stuff, of course, sort of obscured the fact that dubstep originally soundtracked dark rooms full of lowered heads (with Hotflush amongst the chief purveyors of the stuff), and when you take that into account, the Sigha EP almost makes perfect sense. And it’s obvious what Rose, whose keen ear for the dimensions of big rooms has been taking him to the far corners of the earth as of late, heard in these rumblers. Is it great techno, though? Simply put, it depends. The first side moves from what sounds like a crime of passion (A1) to the unceasing paranoia that follows (A2), and to be honest, both tracks delve into headspaces that have been translated more successfully elsewhere (see Planetary Assault Systems for the former, Milton Bradley for the latter). On the flip, however, Sigha’s love for the details really pays off, both with a subtly devastating marimba-fueled workout and a bleary-eyed ambient think piece. I sense that Sigha is challenging himself here, that this EP is the work of a guy who made a conscious decision to take his sound in a particular direction and is 100 percent dedicated to the journey. Techno is about more than commitment, though, and this EP may leave you thirsty, both for something that makes these tracks Sigha’s own and for more of Hotflush’s sound signature. Here’s hoping the transformation of James Shaw is still a work in progress.

petesrdic  on July 13, 2011 at 2:11 AM

Brilliant EP. Strong strong strong. Love the direction Sigha is going in and 30′ away from dubstep can only be a good thing.

Andrew Ryce  on July 13, 2011 at 2:13 AM

I think that his concurrent Blueprint EP and especially his “Politics Of Dying” on his own label show him moving ridiculously quickly into “the zone,” as they say, from the more nebulous zone of see-what-sticks of this particular EP. Dude is going places.

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