Metabolism by SighaRelease date: February 24, 2017
Label: Token Records
Sigha’s James Shaw is a versatile producer whose second album Metabolism further pushes his limits. Metabolism‘s twelve tracks showcase a schizophrenic range of styles that make for a pleasantly unpredictable and rewarding listen. Developing his chops with laidback dubstep tracks released on Scuba’s Hotflush imprint and moving into a more straightforward techno arena, his first LP Living With Ghosts showed the first signs of stretching from convention. Tracks like ‘Translate’ and ‘She Kills in Ecstasy’ were the freest manifestations of these creative pushes, introducing grittiness to the techno palette. Speaking of his process to Electronic Beats, Shaw said he “wanted to make music not for parties, but for after-parties – things that would mess with people’s heads.”
Shaw presents an alternative to cliché monochromatic album covers that regularly grace electronic music releases. As with Living With Ghosts, Shaw has chosen another feminine cover for Metabolism, though this time divorced of human form. Eschewing the controversy that followed with Ghosts’ artful nudity, the cover depicts a gorgeous collection of soft, curling flower petals, presenting a visual contrast to the raw, often industrial sounds within.
The album extends Sigha’s break from traditional techno, which can be heard as early as 2010’s EP Shake. Its last track, ‘Light Swells (In a Distant Space)’ is a nearly ambient dub techno exploration with faint machine buzzing run through a bit crusher. This foreshadows some of the explorations that would come soon after, where Sigha forged onward into a straighter techno direction and the ambient material that would later arrive on Ghosts. Metabolism‘s ‘Stabbing’ can be heard as the continuation of ‘Light Swells.’
‘Stabbing’ could be an ambient track but there is this insect buzzing synth in the background that again seems like our equipment is on the fritz. The pummeling kick drums return, making the ambiences syncopate themselves around the beat. It’s the first track that builds, adding panned hi-hats and increasing the frequency cutoff to brighten the lead ambient pad. ‘Porcelain’ is yet another experiment, a more reserved backbeat placed closer to a dubstep tempo and even calling it out with a throttling, lone snare drum part of the way through.
Though the focus is on experimentation, some tracks come across as too procedural, taking the easy path by simply overlaying a thundering beat over the other elements. The chameleonic nature of Sigha’s production process is enough to keep listeners engaged, but some of the tricks are repeated across the tracks. Nevertheless, Metabolism provides for an engaging listen, and suits both living room and club listening conditions.
In the same Electronic Beats interview, Sigha reported a tendency toward solitary states, using music as a catharsis when he found himself dwelling on things in life. “There’s something I just find incredibly attractive and appealing about this beautiful sadness,” he said. Metabolism continues this introspective, almost obsessive process, often using the steady throbbing beat as an organizing, compartmentalizing force.
Metabolism is out now on Token Records.