Oh, 2022. This year is continuing a trend of “things couldn’t possibly get even worse right?”. So while I can’t fix buckling institutions and escalation of world conflict between the major powers, I can at least recommend some music that has been helping keep myself sane for the year so far. These aren’t in any particular order as trying to rank these is a fruitless task. These all give me great enjoyment across a variety of genres and emotions. My hope is that anyone looking at this list can come away with at least one project they can connect with, reflect on, or even just shut your brain off to.
Billy Woods – Aethiopes
Billy Woods has been around for longer than most think. Releasing under that name since the early 2000s, his underground tendencies have been building to an album like Aethiopes. From the features to the production, the supporting foundations are as inventive and driving as ever. This is an autobiographical record at heart, relating his experiences growing up in a transitional Zimbabwe regime and in Washington D.C. as a teenager. For someone as reclusive as Billy, notably not wanting pictures of his appearance, he really tells-all on Aethiopes. Full control over his story while not allowing his image to be misinterpreted by the music press. Brilliant.
christtt – A.D
While I wrote quite a bit on my review that I recommend you check out, I have some fresh perspective on christtt’s latest work. What A.D. brings to me is a breakdown of all living in the “end times” while all being so interconnected 24/7. Social media, while yes can create some toxic cesspools of isolation and bigotry, is also a tool that has awakened the empathy of many. Seeing the disasters of climate change worsen at a fidelity and speed unthinkable. Framed under a more mature Plunderphonics methodology to his Vaporwave past, christtt really was able to paint a picture of mass existential dread where we are constantly at war with our own perception and the consumerism shoved in our faces as signs of progress and normalcy. Even for new onlookers to his projects, the sampling should be easy to praise and enjoy.
N8NOFACE – Homicide
Few artists have excited me as much as N8NOFACE. I heard a little of his back-catalog before seeing him at Oblivion Access 2022, but I was really down with his straight-faced aggressive Synthpunk, nothing is quite as on-the-nose as “I’m Synth Punk God” for example. But being there live sparked something in me, something I had felt many times before when an artist demanded by full attention. This 2022 record here brings aggressive Screamers worship with an even more cynical and real take on living in a community on the wrong side of policing. I can’t think of a record that made me feel the politics of dance in some time.
Primitive Man – Insurmountable
Insurmountable lives up to it’s namesake with it guttural sludgy noise. More than any previous effort, it’s shorter track listing combined with more focused drones leads to devastating builds. Some of the most unforgiving metal out there today. It drips thick dark sludge right into your ears. Fun anecdote: while seeing the band play this live, the bass amp blew due to the sound being so incredibly loud.
Cities Aviv – MAN PLAYS THE HORN
Cities Aviv came through with easily his best work ever here. He’s no stranger to the underground hip-hop scene, as he’s been releasing for the better part of the 2010s with his eclectic and simple sample flips and notable flow. On MAN PLAYS THE HORN, he is at the top of his game in all categories. The Soul samples are pristine, cut and looped to create some of the most beautiful beats I’ve ever heard. This era of forgoing traditional drum instrumentation for original samples or down-mixed percussion is leading to some fascinating developments. I hate using the Earl Sweatshirt comparison because at the end of the day it’s really not there, but if you enjoy Earl then I implore you to check this one out.
Abdullah Miniawy & HVAD – Notice a Tiny Scratch for the Blue Behind
Ever since I first assaulted my ears with DJ HVAD’s aggressive EDM projects, I have been clamoring for more. However on his latest project, HVAD takes a step back into a more atmospheric production role. In collaboration with up-and-coming Egyptian artist Abdullah Miniawy, they craft a winding spiritual Arabic music experience. It’s quite dreamlike, mixing the traditional music with Post-Industrial undertones and atmosphere. This project seems like a translation of old styles into a modern sense, getting rid of a more naturalistic sound in favor of the tense electronic percussion or dissonant ambiance. Notice a Tiny Scratch for the Blue Behind is a very well done and unique collaboration that leaves me hoping for more like it.
Keiji Haino – My Lord Music, I Most Humbly Beg Your Indulgence In The Hope That You Will Do Me The Hounour of Permitting This Seed Called Keiji Haino To Be Planted Within You
Is it the performance of a lifetime?
But it has too many things going for it for Haino fans to miss out on it. The album title is absolutely ridiculous. The whole record is hurdy-gurdy droning. It’s Kaiji Haino wanting to plant the seed of hurdy-gurdy in you. I really don’t know how else to sell this. Check it out.
RXM Reality – sick for you
I have more thoughts in my review, but relatively my sell is still the same. The Hausu Mountain label is releasing the most interesting music out there, unafraid to push musical boundaries. While this may be the last RXM Reality release indefinitely, it is an amazing statement to close out on. It’s inescapable rhythms and rough noise palate blend to the point of contradiction. It feels so wrong but so right to contort to this monstrous sound.
Hamid Al Shaeri – The Slam! Years (1983-1988)
This is easily my favorite compilation this year so far. A seemingly lost collection of tracks by Hamid Al Shaeri during his years with Egyptian label SLAM!. The instant standout track, “Ayona”, is one of the most blissful dance-able Pop tracks I’ve ever heard. A big name in the Al Jeel scene, Hamid Al Shaeri pulled from all things Western Pop to craft some incredible and timely 80s hits.
Viper – One Day You’ll See Me Again (1997-2009)
I’ll admit, I am so very late to Viper. Like many similar ultra-prolific outsider artists, their discographies can be daunting to sort through. Similarly, my perception of him has been tainted by his more immediate output. Viper is no stranger to taking a trending topic and making a meme half-baked track about it. So here I am, feeling blessed that Dismiss Yourself released this compilation of his best tracks. I had known some version of events in regards to the introduction of Cloud Rap but hearing Viper in his prime shocked me. The atmospheric slow-burn production with Viper’s signature malaise flow really shined. For any Viper doubters, newcomers, or those who want all his great tracks in one package, this compilation is for you.
Uffie – Sunshine Factory
I won’t lie, I had low hopes for this record. Part of me really wants the classic Uffie sound to stay around. But as me and many others have come to terms with, Ed Banger as a whole is a dated sound. Besides Uffie was hell-bent on crafting her own image, and about time too. Pairing up with Toro y Amoi on production, Sunshine Factory results in a super solid Summer Dance-Pop record. There is lot of fun tracks here, from the peppy beat of “Dominos” to the deceptively simple “Cool”. Uffie’s vocal performance is definitely an acquired taste, but her transition from boisterous party sleaze to groovy Dance-Pop is a fantastic one.
Miss Kittin & the Hacker – Third Album
“Suck my dick, kiss my ass” Miss Kittin says on the iconic track “Frank Sinatra” from their debut self titled record release over 20 years ago. Even this far removed from that peak, this duo sounds better than ever. It’s a tight throwback experience that doesn’t make it sound like Electroclash is quite done with us yet. All you millennials out there know you want this.
mizuirono_inu – TOKYO VIRUS LOVE STORY
We are in a new generation of musicians hell-bent on re-appropriating culture into their own designs. This mash of glitchy high tempo J-Rock is packaged under the dramatic flow of a Rock Opera. The flow is constantly evolving during the course of this record. One minute it’s spoken word, the next it’s Screamo, and then the next it’s video game samples. The album art alone speaks to the mission of this record. Easily one of the most unique records of this year.
Sore Dream – Tears of a Blistered World
Sore Dream is what you get when two dudes love sound collages and noise and put them together. These two Full of Hell alums have crafted one hell of an inspired Noise record here. It’s pretty abrasive but not one-note. In fact Tears Of a Blistered World comes off quite apocalyptic. Very little hope to be had here. The introduction of “World Healing Nectar” says it best with it’s robotic spoken word vision of a post-climate apocalypse scene.
I highly recommend the visual component to this record here on Federal Prisoner’s YouTube channel.
Pan Daijing – Tissues
While this may be left in the wake of the live performance in 2019, this industrial tinged Opera recording still remains stunning. Through four movements, Pang Daijing and accompanying vocalists paint the unsettling dissonance with great emotion. The visual component most likely filled in some of these gaps but I feel the ears can do a just job in connecting the pieces. The interplay between repetitious vocal drones and pops, lock grooves, and ominous bass create a very stark picture. If you enjoy Opera this will be for you, otherwise you may have to chew your way through the entire piece. However I highly recommend listening project to listen to in full if you can. Once apparent, it’s complete picture is phenomenal.
Heriot – Profound Morality
Metalcore is a genre of music I have been tip-toeing my way into over the past several years. One of the biggest barriers to entry for me was that many had continued to have more of a melodic streak. I am pleased to announce I am fully converted due to Heriot’s debut record. It’s a riptide of wrath. Breakdowns are immense and the riffs are some of the best I’ve heard in years. Similar to the album art, the tracks distort and twist. Brutal stuff. Even in it’s rare somber moments, it feels contorting. I love the two vocalists in this band, the dynamic between screaming and gutteral vocalists is fantastic.
Park Zero – Proxy
I’ll keep this one simple: it’s Power Noise with a devastating beat. All parties just need to put this on to make it an all-night rager.
Asleep Country – Helvetic Sylph
Trying to sell someone on a 5 hour record is quite hard. Especially one that superficially sounds pretty aimless. I really ask that you give this a chance, it’s a sound collage of everything. A complex and chaotic blend of all life has to offer. That sounds hyperbolic until you check the nearly three hour lifetime. It’s quite an overwhelming runtime paired with how much this record develops over the course of even a song.
LustSickPuppy – AS HARD AS YOU CAN
This is really hot. I mean extremely erotic. Sexual freedom rules. Kicks ass.
Artificial Brain – Artificial Brain
2021 was the spark of Death Metal for me, so you’ll have to bear with me on my take for this record. Taking many lessons from Gorguts’ style, this is a brilliant blend of grimy dissonance and technical showmanship comes together for a solid 45 minute guttural romp. It’s definitely not among the first to do so, but I really appreciate extreme metal genres breaking away from Satan and getting into the world of Sci-Fi. At this point, the future and where it takes us is much scarier than the other side of Heaven. The universe is built in destruction and chaos; Artifical Brain embraces that notion fully.
Aeviterne – The Ailing Facade
There is evil sounding metal all over, some kitchy and some all too real. This brand of Death Metal really threw me for a loop though. It may be just the cover talking, but I have a feel of getting followed while listening to this. It’s not pleasant at all. Pure despair. The downtuned thick riffs and dissonant atmosphere are palpable. Aeviterne crafted one the darkest records of the year and it never returns from the void it creates.
Blind Girls – The Weight of Everything
Screamo rocks, especially when they start to go crazy with the Powerviolence influence. This Emoviolence is cranking that visceral pain up to eleven. This record slams track after track. I am a sucker for this vocal style and energy. When the guitar feedback hits just right and starts squealing, one of my favorite musical toppings. If you like screaming and fast paced no-holds barred Hardcore, maybe feel like letting out some tears, check out this record.
Boris – W
I’ve listened to many Boris records over the years, seeing all the various style and form turns they’ve endeavored to take on. W really stopped me in my tracks though. As a direct sequel album to the Crust-Punk 2020 banger, NO, Boris falls into a melancholic Dream Pop sound. A lot of fine-tuned beauty here. No grand high-tempo riffs, this isn’t Amplifier Worship or Pink. It is a take we don’t see often from this group, especially for a full length release. The contrast is stark and really plays to the backsliding of world health. This record isn’t a good representation of what the group is known for but I’d recommend giving this a shot, Boris fan or not.
𝔇𝔍 6YRథ్٣٣A ЗАО – *XERO’S PANDEMONIUM VOL。1】【www。valeriabounzen。com】
2021 was the year of Goblin Mode. It was only in preparation for this mix. Hardstyle from another dimension. Creepy goblin laughs, jingles, and hard EDM. A complete package if you ask me.
Some parting thoughts music happenings of the year so far:
- If only Chat Pile had released God’s Country before end of June. Alas, just more time to drum up anticipation for that early July release date. It’s a record you should not miss.
- I listened to a ton of The Weeknd’s Dawn FM. I really like a lot of it. The first half of that record is digital throwback brilliance. Some of his best and catchy Synthpop tracks. Sad it didn’t quite make as much of a splash as After Hours but it’s hard to followup that level of success.
- Drake’s new record is the best full project he’s done for over a decade and yet still comes off extremely derivative and one-note. I welcome House production to come back into the mainstream but please we need more than a Drake sing-song monologue over a loop.
- Reflecting on Oblivion Access 2022, I really hope more artist driven festivals pop up to combat the giant corpo-festivals. Fuck Coachella and the like.
- I want to shout out the guys in Soul Glo for making a kick-ass Hardcore record and for lending some words of wisdom that gave me the inspiration to start really believing in myself again. I’m getting back into the swing of things again with a more balanced and healthy life and I’d at least like to think urging me to utilize my creativity was a big help.
I also invite you to check out this continually updated YouTube playlist of a bunch of music videos and visuals for 2022 music I’ve talked about here and elsewhere.