Best of 2022
While 2022 was fraught with enough challenges and changes in my personal life to rival 2021, they were far more welcome – while most of 2021 was clouded over by illness, 2022 was the year of major health improvement and a long-desired move, among plenty of other things. Of course, being couch and/or bedridden for much of 2021 meant a lot of time for reading and listening to things – as 2022 picked up steam, much of that time disappeared, to be spent on the move itself, commuting and other pursuits that I simply could not manage in 2021, such as running. A such, the massive 100 books I read in 2021 was not going to be rivalled, for instance, though the final 51 I did manage I consider a valiant effort nonetheless.
Sonically, 2022 was as refreshing and interesting as any year before. Of course, I speak to this from my personal vantage point where whatever I discovered in 2022 shaped my musical year and thus is fair game for my end-of-year lists.
Somewhat surprisingly, Bad Gyal – who, last year, I honoured with two spots in my top 25 songs – is absent from this year’s list of my favourite songs. Slightly frustratingly (but her back catalogue is impeccable, so it’s fine), the few singles she did release this year did very little for me. Other neoperreo artists – such as Mantriss Nikita and Six Sex – released excellent material however. And where 2021 was a personally weak year for Kpop, I definitely found a few gems this year (although I technically already first heard aespa’s first mini album at the tail end of last year). Overall, 2022 was mostly just intensely diverse and exciting; however, most of all, it was the year of Ayumi Hamasaki. While I have been listening to this Jpop superstar for nearly two decades by now, I had long lost interest in new material already and continued listening only to what I considered her absolute classics (basically anything pre-2005). However, this year I discovered that, actually, many newer releases were as good as if not better than my old-time favourites. (miss)understood and NEXT LEVEL now rank easily among my favourite Ayu albums of all time.
In any case, some of my absolute favourites this year:
Aespa – Yeppi Yeppi
Akira Kosemura – Osmanthus
Ayumi Hamasaki – You were…
DAVICHI – Sunset
Deathprod – Dead People’s Things
Earth – Crooked Axis For String Quartet
Girls’ Generation – Villain
Mantris Nikkita – Reggaeton Pa’ Sadear
MUTSUMI – U Look Good And They Don’t
Poppy – Voicemail
Six Sex – Sunshine
STAiNY – 恋餃子
The Garden – Make A Wish
underscores – Spoiled Little Brat
WEDNESDAY CAMPANELLA – Buckingham
Yerin Baek – Here I am Again
The 52 books I read this year pale in comparison to last year’s effort, but due to my health issues I had a lot more time to read then (and when Covid struck in December I spent three weeks in bed reading a book a day). Additionally, a fair few tomes were included (Ducks, Newburyport; Antkind; Coin Locker Babies; 2666; Congo) – though last year, too, included two long Pynchons and Infinite Jest, among many others.
Regardless, a good year for reading again with a few clear highlights: the insanely great Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman was, no contest, the best thing I read in fiction all year. In non-fiction, David van Reybrouck’s Congo, Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name and Rebecca Solnit’s Whose Story Is This stood out in particular, but there were many great others – unlike other years, there was very little I did not much enjoy at all. Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 certainly dragged near the end; Cathy O’Neil’s The Shame Machine had nothing on her previous work; Guilia Enders’ Gut was written in prose I found utterly unlikeable; however, I left nothing unfinished and found myself struggling through very little.
Some quick statics: out of 52 books, 32 were non-fiction, 19 fiction and 1 poetry; at a little over 17.000 pages read total, the average book was about 330 pages long; the longest book was Ducks, Newburyport (1032 pages), the shortest Els Schijf’s Hoera, Een Mensje! (Hooray, A Small Human!, 80 pages).
As per usual, I did not document my engagement with film sufficiently; nonetheless, I saw some great works, such as Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day and Yi Yi; I further explored Tsai Ming Liang’s oeuvre (and 2022 saw the handsome BluRay release of Vive L’Amour); I saw three films at the first physical (mini-)edition of IFFR in ages, including David Easteal’s excellent The Plains.
Finally, 2022 was, as a result of factors mentioned before, also not my most productive, but despite that, it saw the release of some of my personal favourite creative works. Below is my full 2022 output in alphabetical order.
- Mysticist on the Left-Hand Path – The Seeker of the Perishing (digital; YouTube-only release with static artwork; Santuario De Sangre)
- Opaque – Black Moncler Hudson (digital; 7” vinyl forthcoming in 2023; Summer Interlude)
- Opaque – Chouette (digital and 2CDr; Perpetual Abjection)
- Opaque – Cropped Shiny Black Prada Puffer (digital; YouTube-only release with animated artwork; self-released)
- Opaque – Total Hudson Worship (digital; self-released)
- 💊 Sven Kay ⚡ “POST-PERREO 4” 💫 NEOPERREO MIXTAPE 🌡️ LIVE!!! 🥵 (digital; YouTube-only release with full video; self-released)
- TEMP𝒪RAL W𝒪RLDZ©® – TEMP𝒪RAL W𝒪RLDZ©® (digital; Absent Erratum)
- Where’s Waller?
New Opaque: Black Moncler Hudson 7″ (Summer Interlude)
In my post announcing the release of the Black Moncler Hudson II C40 tape last year, I mentioned that I would provide further details on why exactly it was called Black Moncler Hudson II at some later point when the time was right. Indeed, that time has come: the Black Moncler Hudson 7″, recorded prior to its follow-up but released after, is available for pre-order from the Summer Interlude Bandcamp. This is the first time Opaque is appearing on vinyl, and what could indeed be more appropriate for this format than the spectacular Hudson and two crunchy, crackly tracks that pay tribute to it. The tracks were released onto Bandcamp on 13 November.
Of course, vinyl production is notoriously slow at the moment, so do not expect these physicals to become available until well into 2023. Until that time, both tracks are freely streamable already. Due to a move, primarily, these past few months have been intensely busy – hence, the prolonged radio silence. Hopefully the next few months will enable me to return in a somewhat more regular fashion again to my creative endeavours.
Absent Erratum: Escape Hatch – Trapped Underground
Trapped Underground is the 49th release on Absent Erratum. This submission features two tracks at a total of 23 minutes and 00 seconds. It was released on 26 July 2022.
A darkness clings to Absent Erratum, an impenetrable, empty obscurity in which everything is silent. It rests on her, holds her in place and time, in the company of weightless infinity. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, centuries, millenia – they are indistinguishable here, where permanence equals transience, presence equals absence, existence equals death. An eternal vision of light lives inside her, unreal and intangible; a narrow sliver of hope that remains, that comforts her: I am permanent, I am present, I exist – I am transient, I am absent, I am death.
You can listen to Trapped Underground here.
New Opaque: Cropped Shiny Black Prada Puffer
Can you find waller?
Absent Erratum: TEMP𝒪RAL W𝒪RLDZ©® – TEMP𝒪RAL W𝒪RLDZ©®
TEMP𝒪RAL W𝒪RLDZ©® is the 48th release on Absent Erratum. This submission features one track at a total of 16 minutes and 52 seconds. It was released on 16 March 2022.
Absent Erratum shifts into hyperspeed, adjusting thrusters, moving sideways towards an oblong subparallel megaverse while, in the glow of distant galaxies, gleaming surfaces turn towards her and then accelerate rapidly, starting towards her at the speed of starlight; she evades ever-expanding fractal laserbeams that shoot in her direction – past, above, beyond, anywhere but through – as the iridescent glimmer from a less hostile dimension draws nearer and nearer, as she flies towards escape; for a moment, when she and the shimmering surface colide, she exists in all places at once: she is multiplied infinitely, is momentarily omniscient, briefly conscious of everything alive and breathing – then, as she passes through, an electric current courses through her and sets everything alight; amidst sparkles and twinkles, she emerges into an unknown, unfamiliar, unexplored space, reminiscent – when glanced at from a certain angle – of home.
You can listen to TEMP𝒪RAL W𝒪RLDZ©® here.
Santuario De Sangre: Mysticist On The Left-Hand Path – The Seeker Of The Perishing
On 5 March 2022, the sixth sacrifice of Santuario De Sangre was released to YouTube, The Seeker Of The Perishing by Mysticist On The Left-Hand Path.
New Opaque: Choutte 2CDr (Perpetual Abjection)
Perpetual Abjection is a wonderful micro-label out of Thailand run by the equally wonderful Polwach Beokhaimook, who not only has his own fascinating history in extreme music (I was delighted to discover a while back, when he had already established himself as a valuable part of the HNW scene, that he was a founding member of Epiploenterocele Pusliquid Wormchunk, a gorenoise project I had once come across way back in 2009 through a three-way split on Daniel Maso’s (The Shock Technician) Soundo Maso Records) but who has also provided a loving platform for elaborately crafted editions of all kinds of wallage and static with his label. I couldn’t be more pleased that Opaque has joined the ranks, and the end result is absolutely magnificent – the pictures speak for themselves:
“Opaque’s first physical release of 2022 is a double album for Thailand’s Perpetual Abjection that hyper-focuses on the Chouette, a short, glossy puffer jacket by project favourite fashion house Moncler. Details such as the jacket’s elasticized cuffs’ look and patterning as well as the possibility to ultra-crop it through a drawstring at the bottom of the jacket served as the inspiration for three tracks of static crackle and wallage offering everything from sparse pops and clicks to full-on thick rumble and crackle.”
Chouette was issued in a hand-numbered edition of 26 digitally printed and spray-painted 2CDrs in a spray-painted two-disc jewelcase with four printed inserts featuring images, titles and credits. You can get your own copy over at the Perpetual Abjection Bandcamp, where the album is, of course, also fully streamable.