54 Best Albums of 2022

So just like with 2021, my top ten ballooned past its intended size. Instead of a four-disc suite taking up an eleventh spot, I now present you a Top Fourteen of 2022 because I just had that much stronger feelings about these fourteen albums and couldn’t leave any of them out. Of course, every album on this list comes highly recommended as the peak of what I heard over the course of the year. It’s surely just a drop in the ocean compared to all the great music released during 2022, but one guy can only cram so much of it in his ears – and of all the music I enjoyed, the following albums all stayed closest to my heart and enriched my life more than anything else all year.

• • •

Eiko Ishibashi – Drive My Car / For McCoy

Newhere / Space Shower

Look at this, starting off a “top ten” with two albums counting as one, ridiculous! But I couldn’t help it: Eiko Ishibashi dropped two albums that defined my January and much of the first half of 2022. Her gently aching score to one of my favorite recent movies became my own road trip soundtrack on and off over the year, a contemplative, almost euphoric-sad atmosphere perfect for long drives and thinking about life.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

Black Truffle

Her Black Truffle album feels like watching a nebula become a star, all molten emotion gathering shape and momentum and finally structure, a completely different side of Eiko Ishibashi and equally essential in mapping out my musical journey through 2022.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Hikaru Utada – Bad Mode

Sony

That album cover really says it all: Hikaru Utada is making ecstatic/sad house music for fellow parents who are out there striving, dreaming, loving, losing, living life and ferrying a young one through this world together. It clicked when I found myself looping this on repeat through late winter and rainy spring days, when my kid would sing along with the nursery rhym chorus of “気分じゃないの (Not In The Mood)” and ask for her album every morning in the car.

Listen and buy on Hikaru Utada’s website.

• • •

Space Ghost – Private Paradise

Pacific Rhythm

If there’s a platonic ideal deep dreamy house music that’s simultaneously pure hyperdrive bliss and contemplative mood stasis, Space Ghost has found it. Private Paradise is suffused with holographic textures and bits of bubbling nature, hypnotic synth washes and the kind of purely electronic wispy melodies that send my mind reeling toward unexplored 16 bit worlds full of crystal beaches and plants that can do magic.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Jack J – Opening the Door

Mood Hut

Honestly I like the earnest little blurb on the release page. It’s simple and more to the point than I’d be, and it’s true:

Self-recorded slowly but surely between 2015 and 2019 between Mood Hut and C’est Life Studios, and featuring some crucial saxophone work by Linda Fox, this LP confirms Jack J to be a masterful mood maker as well as an incisive songwriter. Over the course of the album an undeniably blue haze settles over inward-peering ambient jazz, On-U-inspired digital-dub and quiet storm soft rock leaving a distinct sense of sadness amongst all the tangerine funk.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Ron Trent – What Do the Stars Say to You

Night Time Stories

I’m a weird dude who’s equally into leftfield ECM style jazz and warm synthladen deep house from Detroit and Chicago so naturally, Ron Trent’s latest excursion, sort-of under the name WARM, ended up being one of my most listened albums of the year by a long shot. It’s a real-deal odyssey with appearances by Ivan Conti, Jean Luc Ponty, and Gigi Masin, a genre agnostic space chase.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

John Caroll Kirby – Dance Ancestral

Stone’s Throw

Mash spiritual jazz with groovy soul and earnest new age and a dollop of flirty funk and you’ve got the idea behind Dance Ancestral. Kirby teamed up with Yu Su for this album he says is about the “intuitive dance” we perform throughout our lives and while that sounds corny, it’s undeniably true, having spent the last six months with this one infiltrating my mornings driving kiddo to school, my afternoons writing, my evenings in headphones reading way too late.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

M. Geddes Gengras – Expressed, I Noticed Silence

Hausu Mountain

I think M. Geddes Gengras made his best album yet this year with another new wrinkle to his vast sound and, to my ears, a deeper focus on the very tactile quality of the music itself. This is the kinda synth music you want to take with you on an adventure full of challenges and triumphs and vast JRPG-esque realms of unlimited possibility full of big emotions even bigger cosmic insignificance.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Moor Mother – Jazz Codes

Anti-

I’m not officially picking a number one album of the year, but I feel super strongly that Jazz Codes blew me away more than anything else in 2022 and I’ve got the repeat plays to prove it. I’m not capable of describing why and how she conjures such magic, but Moor Mother has once again dissolved my expectations and made a radical shift into new sounds and structures. I want to say something like, she’s made a hiphop masterpiece that finds a kaleidoscopic midpoint between the playful abstraction of Shabazz Palaces or Flying Lotus at his Sun Ra-est and the heartrending free jazz of Matana Roberts – but it feels limiting to compare Moor Mother to other artists. She’s a force of nature. And this is her best album yet.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer – Recordings From the Åland Islands

International Anthem

The Åland Islands are traversed by ferry which, according to Jeremiah Chiu, “casts a surreal horizontal movement through space and time, with islands shifting into and out of periphery, totally still and calm, yet always in motion.” Honestly it’s hard to beat that as a description for this shimmering ambient archipelago full of piano, organs, synths, strings, chimes, and loads of field recordings from the islands themselves.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Shabason & Krgovich – At Scaramouche

Idée Fixe

Just press play on motorik dream anthem “I Am So Happy With My Little Dog” – I dare you not to have your entire day lifted and brightened. This was the emotional rescue I needed at the beginning of autumn and will forever be associated with surprisingly warm days while the leaves are falling.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Smoke Point – Smoke Point

Geographic North

Hyper-serene ambient house blurring pointillist detail with dreamy freefall rhythm, all dazzling sunlight in shifting sand, blowing snow, getting lost but it feels so so good.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Daniel Bachman – Almanac Behind

Three Lobed Recordings

Field recordings of extreme weather, emergency broadcasts, guitar, banjo, harmonium, a whole maelstrom of our chaotic planet on the precipice of great climate change, a reckoning with our own inability to predict what we’ve done and what’s to come.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Nimbudala – Peace Rock

Inner Islands

POV: you’re trapped inside the Zone and Eduard Artemyev’s Stalker score has gone feral, growing bluesy, groovy, invisibly stretching time and erasing any sense of direction. There’s no way out but to surrender to the flow and trust in the atmosphere.

Listen and buy on Bandcamp.

• • •

Thank you for reading. I sincerely hope you find some music to fall in love with here, and that some of these artists find new fans and get some well deserved sales. I know I missed a lot of great music, as I do every year, and gladly welcome any suggestions!

• • •

Part 1 | Part 2 | Top 13

5 thoughts on “54 Best Albums of 2022

  1. Great list as always – new shackleton didn’t click on me at first spin, would’ve loved to hear some of your thoughts on that record. Will give it another go. Would also recommend Priori’s RED project – he put out quite a nice IDM album this year . cheers!

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  2. I’m sorry the year’s been a tough one, but all the more grateful for you publishing your EOY list because I love it unreservedly and genuinely have looked forward to it coming out for a number of years now. I’ve discovered so many new artists because of you. Thank you!

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