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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Shigam website  Shigam - Beauty [Jar Beat Music - 2002]

Tha Blue Herb is the best unknown band in the world. DJ O.N.O is the man behind their music. He is also part of Shigam who released a few months ago a stunning ep called Beauty. Unfortunately, it’s unavailable in Europe.

Shigam is a four piece unit including, besides O.N.O, Asa (a japanese hiphop DJ who has worked with Krush and Tha Blue Herb’s Boss the MC), Shibata Ichiro (drummer with pop/rock band Yura Yura Teikoku) and guitarist Sad-Hero. Unfortunately, other than O.N.O’s I have never heard those folks music so there is not much comparison points.

After the first listening session, it seems that this ep sounds a lot like an instrumental version of Tha Blue Herb latest full-length, Sell our soul (check here to see how good I think it is). That alone makes Shigam worthy of getting... But O.N.O doesn’t need an instrumental TBH and after a few spins, it becomes obvious.

First of all, Beauty is not really an instrumental hiphop album. It’s an instrumental hiphop electronic free jazzy chaotic CD. Let me explain this...  The beats have something chaotic about them, something hesitant. Real drums are combined with electro beats, which adds to the messy (but excellent) atmosphere. In the background, there always are some melodies performed on traditional instruments. The overall sound is more about IDM and experimental music than about hiphop. Actually, Shigam benefits from the daring side of the former and from the catchy aspect of hiphop.

In some review a friend told me he read, they were talking about Free Jazz. I said “what the fuck !!” Then I re-listened to the album and was forced to admit that the drum-patterns are hailing from there and that there are sometimes some improv-sounding bits. So there you go: free jazz + electronica + hiphop. Yummy, innit?

There are 6 tracks on Shigam, 3 of which have to be mentioned. First, Unfaith, the closest thing to straight hiphop on the whole ep, with what sounds like a bell sample. Very good, will make you bang your head a little. There is also Wo Kling, named after a very nice German fella who might be called the unofficial Tha Blue Herb and O.N.O personal representative in Europe. I’m pretty sure that his enthusiasm for O.N.O’s sounds got them a few more fans. Ah if only real labels / distributor people would open their eyes and ears and decide to carry TBH-related stuff in the west... The most interesting track is the last one, In. Very soft and quiet, this song hints towards concrete music. Almost ambient soundscapes, with a few cymbals sounds, sinewaves, some beats here and there and various mysterious sounds. Very intriguing.

It is pretty obvious that all I want now is a full-length!

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

François Monti
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