How will I remember 2022 in music? Through 22 albums in which contemporary material is perfectly intertwined with archival one, 11 compilations and 22 musical memories.
Writing in The Quietus. A conversation with John Doran. Creating a list of Ukrainian albums that went viral. Producing a charity compilation In my dreams I see a peaceful East with Palma Foundation and artists from Gdansk in a week. Reading John Object’s and Serhiy Zhadan’s reports from Ukraine and writing about it in The Guardian. Concerts in the auditorium of a former Clinic For Internal Disease at Unsound. Talking with Miloš Hroch and Janek Blaszczak about Czech shoegaze scene at the gateway to Club 89 at the Hotel Forum. Jurying the Folk Music Competition – New Tradition 2022. A conversation full of laughing with Lori Goldston and Laura Cannell. A introduction in Italian of the Mitch & Mitch con il loro Gruppo Eterofonico concert at the Forest Theatre with Natalia Koralewska. A text about young Polish jazz on Bandcamp, which I was waiting for and which I wrote myself. Writing the booklet for Wooden Music by Tomasz Stanko Quintet for Astigmatic. Following Czeskie Nutki (Czech musical notes).Seeing Kraftwerk with my dad. Listening to ‘From Her to Eternity’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live. Spotify wrapped discussion. Immortal Onion concert during Spokój Festival at sunrise. Klawo concert on Olowiannka Island at sunset. Jaimie Branch concert at Rewire. Havlovi concert in Klub Żak. Schtum concert during Open Source Art Festival. Valentina Goncharova in first place in the summary of The Quietus Reissues Etc. Of The Year 2022. Playing vinyl DJ sets in Hotel Puro – after the first one a guy asks if I could play some country music, after the last one another wants to pay me to play an hour longer.
ALE HOP – Why Is It They Say A City Like Any City?
Inviting too many guests usually does not end well; here, the opposite is true: the album is varied but succinct and coherent, and the stylistic selection of artists from different musical worlds generates a global but narratively coherent and musically diverse message.
ANTELOPER – Pink Dolphins
If Kudu sounded like rehearsal and loose improvisation to me, Pink Dolphins is a tight and well-crafted album. Whether Branch and Nazary take a turn towards quasi-song like on ‘Earthlings’ or dense, electro-acoustic jams like on the closing ‘One Living Genius’.
BASTARDA & SUTARI – Tamoj
The combined forces of these bands may come as a surprise, but the result is exceptional. Bastarda’s heavy sound is punctuated by the energy and multifaceted lyrics of the girls from Sutari. The theme is borderland – geographical, but also cultural, understood in many aspects. [Interview with the bands / polish only]
DANIA – Voz
There have been many albums for voice and solo electronics, this one adds another image to this panorama. Dania Shihab with her voice creates a peculiar musical introspection, she creates an intimate world, in a globalised world full of chaos and anxiety building a subtle and courageous statement.
ENSEMBLE NIST-NAH – Elders
The demented percussion ensemble led by Will Guthrie shows how to draw creatively from the traditional sounds of the gamelan, creating a rhythmic epic that demonstrates the infinite possibilities of the instrument. [Review / polish only]
VALENTINA GONCHAROVA – Ocean: Symphony for Electric Violin and other instruments in 10+ parts
This monumental recording, created behind the Iron Curtain in the perestroika era, combines minimalism, drone music and improvisation based on electrified violins and amplified household objects, showcasing a Ukrainian violinist’s extraordinary creativity. [Review]
KLAWO – Klawo
(Coastline Northern Cuts)
Klawo call to mind the young UK jazz scene, with its pulsating funk sound, but also boasts arrangements that would have been right at home in the golden age of Polish radio and TV. Their interweaving of electronics with wind instruments and flutes; and their undeniable groove make them one of the most promising groups on the scene. [Review]
MICHAŁ JAN & IMMORTAL ONION – Screens
(U Know Me)
Immortal Onion sometimes exchange drums for drum pads, or swap a double bass for a Moog. The idea for Screens began taking shape when saxophonist and producer Michał Jan Ciesielski, decided to write some songs for them – compositions boast complex polyrhythms and musical acrobatics that recall BadBadNot Good. [Review]
TOMÁŠ NIESNER – Bečvou
(Warm Winters Ltd)
These spacey, electronic sounds are brilliantly counterpointed by the recordings of nature, and the heaviness is balanced by subtle guitar chords. Niesner avoids pathos and opts for rather subtle nuances, imaginative arrangements, and a dramatically constructed lyrical story. [Review]
NIKOLAIENKO – Nostalgia Por Mesozóica
The aqueous electronic passages remind me of the achievements of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the innovative solutions devised in the 80s by experimental studios in Cologne or Warsaw. Alchemical combinations of musique concrète, samples, synthetic parts with fairy-tale melodies and sound-art, produce a varied, fascinating and original music narrative. [Review]
NOORI & HIS DORPHA BAND – Beja Power!
After a concert on Le Guess Who? this album has enchanted me. I like its lightness, the capital solos, the dense bass lines that carry a bluesy lightness, an unusual punchiness but also a distinct character, steeped in the musical tradition of the Bey and coloured by the Sudanese revolution. [Le Guess Who? review]
BRANKO MATAJA – Over Fields and Mountains
This is a melancholic study of the electric guitar in the spirit of spaghetti westerns with a slightly psychedelic tinge. He uses pick-ups, spinning a melodic wail like Omar Khorshid, but also Robert Fripp-like effects superimposed on the instrument. [Review]
NO TONGUES – ICI
(Ormo, Carton, Pagans)
No Tongues have combined the poetics of place with a monumental, all-encompassing sound, a trance, a kind of spiritual escape from a specific location – they have created a unique musical hybrid that redefines the view of folk as a story about the found world in the form of sound that is dialogued with in various ways. [Review / polish only]
WESTON OLENCKI – Old Time Music
Olencki cleverly juxtaposes the musical traditions of the US, showing new prospects for AI-controlled improvisation. The album is like a time machine that leads the listener through the history of bluegrass, sound recording techniques, and the radio, the first transmitter of information. [Review]
MAREK POSPIESZALSKI – Polish Composers Of The 20th Century
Marek Pospieszalski has gathered the crème de la crème of young Polish jazz scene to take on the work of the most original Polish composers in contemporary music. There is room for a rousing crescendo interwoven with crackling noise, a dense waltz with distinctive woodwinds and the influence of William Basinski. [Review]
WOJCIECH RUSIN – Syphon
Rusin juxtaposes operatic vocals with electronics created in the Orange Milk aesthetic using hyper pop elements, field recordings and synthesis in the spirit of Sote. Sometimes he ventures into song-like compositions with Eden Girma, Emma Broughton and interesting chamber music, at other times into quasi-folk. [Review]
SPALARNIA – Usta
Usta is dominated by a clubby, uneven sound, complemented by a layer of synths. The melodies are not abstracted from reality and, as a result, all these puzzles put together resonate strongly. And at the same time, some of the stanzas are catchy. The artist mixes pop, committed song, and enhances everything with an autotune effect. [Review / polish only]
SSABÆ – Azurescens
A harmonious ensemble impressionistic session that puts a harmonious spin on ambient, chamber orchestral playing, spreading the balance between the acoustic and electronic skilfully. A delicate and resonant album that I discovered at the end of the year and absorbed me completely.
ŠIROM – The Liquified Throne of Simplicity
On their magnum-opus Širom draw inspiration from the raw bass and trance of Natural Information Society, stretching the narrative from meditative and soothing to a growing wall of sound. Or they begin with a repetitive motif on the banjo, complemented by vocals through a stunning crescendo, where violins and choral singing combine into stereophonic polyphony on percussion. [Review]
TANYA TAGAQ – Tongues
(Six Shooter Records)
Tanya Tagaq doesn’t always sing specific words, sometimes she just makes a sound, builds an echo, a shamanic voice mixed with anger and evoking ghosts of the past. Tongues is an eloquent and very powerful reckoning with Canada’s current post-World War II colonial grip on the Inuits. [Review]
SILVIA TAROZZI & DEBORAH WALKER – Canti di guerra, di lavoro e d‘amore
Silvia Tarozzi and Deborah Walker give an extraordinary interpretation of the emancipation songs of the women of northern Italy during the Second World War. Drawing on contemporary music, they demonstrate anew the highly lyrical yet poignant folk laments. [Review / polish only]
EMAHOY TSEGUÉ-MARYAM GUÈBROU – Emahoy Tsegue-Maryab Guebrou
You can hear Duke Ellington in her music, you can Chopin or Debussy. A pianist beloved of Norah Jones, she combines a distinctive Ethiopian sound with influences from around the world, resulting in suave, subtle and lyrical music. [Review / polish only]
A Collective Memoir
The Armenian festival inflicted its central theme – collective memory – on artists who use means more or less related to it: concrete music, loops created on tapes, sound collage, field recordings or reverb-laden dubs.
Helping refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border has resulted in a charitable compilation gathering a who’s who of European and Polish improvisation, who have made available a mass of premiere material that delights with its richness and diverse ways of exploring acoustics and electronics.
Borga Revolution! Ghanaian Dance Music in the Digital Age Vol. 1
Disco and funk from 1970s Ghana resurrected half a century later. Back then, Western music influenced the artists there, who created recordings that are still brilliant and appealing today – now the West can see for itself.
Construction vol. 2
The Construction Festival did not take place in Dnipro this year for reasons that are well known, but instead compiled one of the most stylistically coherent compilations with songs by Ukrainian artists recorded after 24 February.
Czech and Slovak Dungeon Synth Compilation
(Nomad Sky Diaries – Sky Burial)
90 minutes of extraordinary music from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, for which dungeon synth is the starting point, but offers much more: from folk and medieval motifs to dark synth fascinations to black metal heaviness.
The ephemeral label has returned with a Polish representation of artists drawing on ambient and synth music, gathering the most interesting representatives of the genre who create music that is soothing, spacious and, in its own way, meditative.
La Materia Verbal – Antología de la Poesía Sonora Peruana
The Peruvian label is exploring the country’s extraordinary archives, this time reaching for sound poetry – both from the 1980s and 1970s of the early 21st century and the last few years. Every country should have its But Records.
Saturno 2000: La Rebajada De Los Sonideros 1962-1983
Rebajada is a slowed down and lowered in sound cumbia, which on the one hand is much more danceable and on the other gives a close look at the complexity of the genre. A capital discovery of a phenomenal scene taking shape over two decades.
From hardcore, post-punk, lo fi to indie and cold wave – a great overview of the Polish guitar scene, which plays deadly, intense, sometimes innovative, at other times straightforward and blunt.
Vahel ü li / The Link Between
Estonian representation of the improvised and experimental scene – from peculiar soundscapes, crazy jams to interesting interpretations of traditional music.
’80s Underground Cassette Culture: Volume 2
Synth experiments, simple drum machines, outlandish techno and minimal wave music from around the world. I missed the first part of the compilation, but the second is just as good – upbeat and catchy, but also full of darkness at the same time.