At this point, it's hard not to feel a little bad for Sigha (a.k.a. James Shaw). That sounds harsh, but it's a statement that has little do with the quality of the London-reared producer's music—which remains quite high—and lot more to do with the fact that he seems increasingly disconnected from the bass-music scene with which he is often affiliated. In reality, Sigha now resides in Berlin and has been regularly turning out heady, mature techno for several years now, a trend that continues on his most recent EP, Abstractions I-IV. The tunes are solid, but one can't help but wonder if they're largely falling on deaf ears.
When Sigha first joined the Hotflush fray back in 2009, his techno-leaning explorations made sense within the context of the label roster, as Scuba and Co. were busily mining the territory where dubstep and techno crossed paths. Three years later, the label's sound has fractured in a multitude of different directions, almost all of them away from the cold precision and bass-colored techno that Sigha has increasingly perfected with each release. Abstractions I-IV is actually his sixth offering on Hotflush, and, interestingly enough, it begins with a beatless production, "Something in Between Us." It's a rich, pastoral track full of lush synths that glide through the production while deep bass tones provide just a hint of momentum. Clocking in at two-and-a-half minutes, it's more of a moody intro than a proper song, but it's rather well done.
The EP's three remaining cuts find Sigha shifting his focus back towards the dancefloor. "Where I Come to Forget," which trainspotters may remember from its appearance on Scuba's DJ Kicks, is a slow-burning, percussion-led cut with an off-kilter drum pattern and glitchy synth tweaks. Even better is the following track, "How to Disappear," a taut slice of techno that pulses its way through seven minutes of sharp kicks and swelling bass tones while only providing the slightest traces of melody. The low end grows even thicker on the EP's final number, "Drown," a dark and ominous production which churns and swirls for several minutes before eventually birthing a heady techno rhythm.
Abstractions I-IV may not be a fun listen, but it's clear that "fun" is not exactly at the top of Sigha's agenda. Even as Hotflush's profile grows by leaps and bounds, he's following his own path, and it's refreshing to see an artist delving deeper into techno without simply riffing on classic Detroit or borrowed nostalgia. Sigha may be situated in London, but his bleak, workmanlike creations should be soundtracking clubs in Berlin. While it's possible that his potential success is being limited by by the context in which his music is being presented, there's little question that the music itself has few flaws.