Sigha – ‘Living With Ghosts’ (Hotflush Recordings)

While many electronic artists cobble together forty minutesʼ worth of tracks and call the effort an LP, Sigha is manifestly not one of them. With ‘Living With Ghosts’, he joins the ranks of artists like Shed and Vessel in creating a techno record that takes full advantage of the full-length formatʼs scope for experimentation and depth. While his recent move to Berlin has clearly affected Shawʼs sound – which has encompassed dubstep, dub, deep house and garage – it hasnʼt dictated it. ‘Living With Ghosts’, for all its fidelity to the motifs of both UK and Berlin techno, is a complex, subtle and compelling record.

Although Living With Ghosts is first a techno album, its mesmerising, abstracted atmospheres are the fruit of a young Sighaʼs love of shoegaze and his background as a guitarist. ʻDelicateʼ and ʻSuspensionʼ are carefully latticed sonic layers that envelop you in tactile ambience, while a driving groove underlies ʻPuritianʼʼs diaphanous veils of noise.

ʻScene Coupleʼ is an album highlight, rising and swelling with cinematic force but always restrained and intricately textured. Bleak it may be, but Living With Ghosts is also enthralling, not least in its longer tracks like the nine-minute epic ʻTranslateʼ, where hypnotic beats punctuate a minimal, windswept soundscape in a sublime aural assault. ʻSuspensionʼ is as anticipatory as the title would suggest, one of the albumʼs brief ambient interludes that makes the return to the insistent percussion, drizzled pads and subtle dynamics of ʻDressing For Pleasure (Ideal)ʼ ever more potent.

Where Sigha succeeds is in his seemingly effortless marriage of finely crafted beats and evocative sound design, in the contrast between the penumbral morbidity of noise and the vitality of beats and grooves that sonically underpins ‘Living With Ghosts’ʼ title. Itʼs often irritatingly ambiguous to read that a record is as suited to clubs as it is to full immersion with headphones – yes, people have been listening to dance music at home for some time now and no, most people do not have soundsystems measurable in kilowatts in their bedrooms. Yet the maxim rings true in this case: ʻScene Coupleʼ will no doubt shred dancefloors in the coming months, while ʻAokigaharaʼ is a beatless wall of ambience that swathes you in a silken fog. ‘Living With Ghosts’ is more than the sum of its parts, skillfully paced and beautifully cohesive, it is testament to the quality of Sighaʼs production. Itʼs a record that proves beyond all doubt that the techno full-length will always have something new and captivating to offer.

‘Living With Ghosts’ is out on November 19, via Hotflush Recordings

Maya Kalev