Album Lists

10 Best records of 2022

This smalll list of records is intended to gather some of the albums enjoyed the most by the owner during the year and not to portray the totality of what happened in music during 2022.

I know there are thousand of good albums released last year we could’ve talk about that have been covering most of music magazines and blogs around, but as said it just a small list exclusively based by personal enjoability.

So don’t be too surprise if you won’t find here anything about the impressive dance pop homage on Beyoncé‘s Reinassance or the introspective R&B of SZA on her new SOS.

Moor Mother “Jazz Codes”

Camae Ayewa, alias Moor Mother, is nowadays one of the most talented and interesting artists around, able to expand her creativity over new fields with no boundaries of any kind. With her full discography she always tried different approaches and pushed herself over new visions, soundscapes and “codes” , as the album title suggests.

Jazz Codes is indeed not just a jazz album, but a whole celebration of afroamerican music in a very personal way; The mixture between hip-hop and jazz has always been a trademark of Moor Mother’s music, but it’s always surprising how she’s able to destroy the structures used on a previous album to completely create new ones.

There’s still a strong free jazz connection, but compared with previous works like Circuit City or Black Encyclopedia of the Air it seems to be more intended to accompany the rest of the electronic textures and the nocturnal ambient vibes than leading the whole musical aspect; the perfect accompaniment for an amazing lyric work full of poetry and meaning exploring topics ranging from politics to spirituality. Almost every track sees the participation of at least a guest musician offering a sort of “art collective experience”.

Brutus “Unison Life”

Hailing from Belgium, this trio is with no doubt one of the fresher things happened to hardcore in recent times. After two very well made albums and an ascent success over the heavy music communities, this new record definitely marks an important achievement in terms of artistic maturity, pushing the band’s proposal on an even more balanced and cohesive form.

The emotional and atmospheric component is very close to perfection and offers in a lot of moments the best that genre has to give, from the amazing dramatic vocals to the enthralling drum patterns and the mind blowing atmospheric guitar work that totally embraces the whole sound field even if most of the times there’s only just a guitar line.

Emotionally speaking Unison Life is moving, intense and mind blowing, alternating pure breathtaking songwriting moments with beautiful lyrics about life struggles to more explosive post-rock sections. With no doubt the very best you can find in post-hardcore nowadays.

Charli XCX “Crash”

After being confirmed as the undisputed queen of digital pop with her previous How i’m Feeling Now, Charli came back with a new record, aware of the high amount of interest from the music community on her.

Indeed Crash is definitely not How i’m Feeling Now 2.0, but a strong evolution of her music from an abstract dimension to a more consistent and complete idea pop and the totality of its heritage.

Anticipated by the perfection of the single Good Ones, this record offers dance-like moments, synth driven 80’s tributes, modern hits in a 2000s style and of course internet era music, making the hyperpop diva status absolutely perfect to fit on Charli’s new artistic shape.

Rina Sawayama “Hold the Girl”

As well as Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama has a very similar situation when a following album to her debut was announced to be released.

In a specular way she had a lot of attention on and she also opted for a different and more traditionally pop way to express herself. Many great music arrangements and interesting solutions can be found here, created again over a very complete variety of influences, even if not as crazily various as happened on the previous one.

Hold the Girl is still an excellent example of how to make a good pop album in 2022, picking different approaches here and there and molding them together with strong personality and distinctive songwriting and storytelling abilities.

King Stingray “King Stingray”

With an extremely fresh and genuine record, the Australian rock group King Stingray have released its debut album last summer and it’s definitely a worth to listen one.

This is not just a regular contemporary rock release, but it’s a unique palette full of different influences from indie to folk and funk with a very personal and original approach strictly related to the traditions from the northern territories where the band comes from.

Beside rock indeed there’s a song approaching rooted in aboriginal music and the ancient tradition of manikay (aboriginal songs), which makes this album a totally unique experiment with lyrics in both english and youlnu matha and an overall cheerful mood that make the whole work absolutely enjoyable. A really interesting journey.

Asonojokei “Island”

In always less inspired times for blackgaze music, it’s definitely not easy to make the difference and avoid to repeat what have already been made by thousand other bands in the last decade; Asunojokei’s second released (follower of Awakening from 2018), is indeed not making a revolution, but it’s undoubtedly shining for its unique take on the genre and provides strong songs with beautiful melodies and highly intense moments.

Envy and Deafheaven are still the main influences of the japanese quartet, but compared to their previous work, which is of course a great album, this record sounds more wonderfully cohesive in terms of sound and emotionally speaking it’s even more powerful, offering breathtaking moments deeply inspired by j-pop solutions and post-hardcore/emo melancholic vibes that gives to the whole record a strong cinematic and stunning approach.

M.I.A. “Mata”

After six years of absence from music scenes, the UK based srilankan rapper and poetess is back with a new work. For the ones not very familiar with M.I.A. needs to be said that she’s always been a very original artist and not a regular rapper, molding her whole style over different types of hip-hop, eastern music, field recording sampling and UK electronic music, proposing a unique formula that in this new Mata sees a delightful contamination with all the modern drifts happened in hip-hop during her years of absence.

Anticipated by the very powerful single The One and its strong trap inspired vibes, Mata is a melting pot of influences and inspirations. seeing M.I.A. still at ease with her traditional marks such as well crafted songwriting, conscious rap and elements of asian music, but also confident with more modern approaches.

Yeule “Glitch Princess”

Follower of one of the most beautiful albums of the last decade (Serotinin II), Yeule’s second work is maintaining their music on a high quality level in terms of atmospheres, sound design, poetry and of course songwriting.

The album is opened by a voice message where Yeule introduces and describes theirself and indeed the whole record in general seems to be very much into this personal exposure compared to their previous music/lyrical approaches; of course still in a cyborg/nihilist personality than a strictly human one, but since their music remain extremely emotional and touching there’s definitely a strong level of empathy with the listener in a pretty much cinematic way i’d say.

In general Yeule’s music is like an open portal to another world, that seems to be an inner dimension that we all have inside, but we all unconsciously tend to hide. On a strictly musical side the direction seems to be less pop driven, but more into the avant-garde/ambient fields with tons of glitches and electronic samples, but still opened to extremely emotional and intense moments. Absolutely beautiful and enchanting, perfect to be listened in the heart of the night.

Domi & JD Beck “Not Tight”

One of the most awaited of the year; Domi & JD Beck have been active since 2018 as a touring act and a project open to collaborate with many well known artists from jazz, pop and hip-hop scenes. They’ve been capturing since the beginning a lot of attentions from music medias, especially for their incredible talent and their young age.

Not Tight is the first full-length album ever released by the duo and contains all the band’s background influences and some really crazy collaborations with some music giants such as Herbie Hancock, Anderson .Paak and Mac DeMarc just to name a few ones. The duo’s music is very fresh even if it set its roots mostly in mid 70’s jazz fusion with several R&B, neoprogressive and old school hip-hop references offering a smooth and delightful atmosphere that doesn’t sound old or already listened even if there is certainly a strong tribute component.

Technically speaking the record is unbelievable, with crazy irregular drum patterns, synth sounds from another world and instrumental virtuoso moments; but it’s not the type of album you can appreciate only if you’re into music theory, it’s definitely an excellent record to put on for chilling and being transported somewhere else by the magic power of the music.

The Comet is Coming “Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam”

London based space jazz ensemble The Comet is Coming doesn’t really need any particular kind of introduction, since they’ve easily become through the years one of the most acclaimed and interesting names around the jazz genre with their unique blend of spacey, sc-fi and futuristic atmospheres molded over free improvisation and nearly psychedelic vibes always opened to other genres contaminations such as electronic rock and funk.

Their last effort still moves over the previous albums path, drifting between synth driven atmospheric moments and more aggressive explosions with King Shabaka wonderful saxophone exploitations.

Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam is a spiritual experience expanded through abstract musical architectures and sound fields to create a listening journey with no boundaries or limits of any kind.

Album Lists

10 Blackgaze albums released before Sunbather

The word blackgaze is used to describe one of the most improbable genre fusion we could ever imagine to happen; Anticipated by Alcest’s 2005 EP Le Secret and officially explosed in 2010, the genre is a mixture between black metal and shoegaze.

For all those who are not very familiar with such styles, black metal is the most extreme form of heavy metal named after a Venom album from 1982, transposed into a genre by a few very extreme thrash metal bands such as Bathory, Celtic Frost and Sodom, and then exploided with its second wave consisting in a scene composed by norwegian bands active during early 90’s (Mayhem, Immortal and Emperor are a few examples). The genre is frequently associated to a very stereotyped (often reaching ridicolousness) imaginery of musicians with black and white facepaint and long hair with conceptual themes about darkness, occultism and northern european landscapes.

On the other side we have shoegaze, a mostly UK phenomenon of mid 80’s and early 90’s, which is a very dreamy and fuzzy type of alternative rock born as a lighter counterpart of 80’s darkwave and post-punk (Some essential bands are Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Cocteau Twins).

It’s important to say that while shoegaze has been a thing for a short time with most of its leading bands breaking up, black metal has always been very prolific and since the beginning several bands experimented with weird fusions of the genre (Ulver, Fleuerty, Ved Buens Ende, Enslaved) and completely ignored its estetical and conceptual stereotypes.

But how it’s possible that such opposite worlds would collapse together into this new odd marriage? The non so obvious answer is “completely accidentally”.

In 2005 a very underground french act named Alcest, solo project of Stephan Paut (more known as Neige), a black metal musician with no idea of what shoegaze was, released an EP with both ethereal/dreamy atmospheres and harsh vocals/metal fast drumming called Les Secret. While this EP remained not much more than an innovative underground gem, it is with Neige’s other project Amesouers (same formula, but more post-punk oriented) and the following Alcest full-length Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde (2007, basically Le Secret with zero metal elements) that he gained a strong popularity and got its formula transoformed into the blackgaze genre with the following Alcest album Écailles de Lune (2010);  a record that influenced tons of bands all around the world.

As said some rows up, Neige had no idea of what shoegaze was at the time and that result came up simply following his artistic creativity. Later after reading reviews mentioning the shoegaze genre he would eventually fall in love with it and becomes a very good connoisseur of that style of music and its main and less known bands.

Like him almost every band that approached to this genre at the time came from a metal background, with a small knowledge and interest in shoegaze, even perceptible in the way of playing clean and dreamy guitar parts, sometimes way too dry and rough .

From 2010 to 2014 a lot of blackgaze bands have been formed, mostly Écailles de Lune influenced and coming from a black metal background, than San Francisco based band Deafheaven released their iconic album Sunbather and things completely changed.

This list is intended to gather some essential records from the early blackgaze period before the release of Sunbather, of course i can already confirm that there will be a second part entitled 10 Blackgaze records released after Sunbather.

Last but not least, blackgaze is just a term invented by music journalists, it is never been a real genre, but mostly a way of making music.

Alcest - Écailles de Lune Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Alcest “Écailles de Lune” (2010)

Released in spring 2010 with a strong hype behind, this should be considered the real blackgaze manifesto and the album that gave Alcest the boost to arrive where they are now.

Everyone who was into atmospheric black metal at the time has been captured by the mellow tunes of this records and its unique mood made of melancholy and nostalgia.

Contrary to its predecessor Souvenir D’un Autre Monde, that had a very fuzzy sound, this album shows a very massive and modern production, with chrystalline sounds, explosive metal guitars and liquid/dreamy clean arpeggio driven sections. Also the vocals shows both harsh black metal screams and ethereal Cocteau Twins-ish singing, which is a unique trademark of the project.

The first three songs Écailles de Lune parts 1 and 2 and Percées de Lumière are already longtime classics and their emotional impact is really powerful and irresistible.

Écailles is elegant, sad and incredibly beautiful: An ocean of dreams that completely absorbs the listener into a magic and comfortable world, and this is not a random example. Indeed Alcest’s music and lyrics on the first three albums are completely based on some visions that Neige had when he was a child that seemed to be sparks of memories from an early life in another world; and this spiritual component of the music in particular makes this album a really unique and mysterious journey. Essential.

Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs - Music

Amesoeurs “Amesoeurs” (2009)

As mentioned on the introduction, this is another project formed by Neige.

This time it is a sort of more collaborative project, initially only with singer Audrey Sylvaine and later with Fursy Teyssier (mastermind of Les Discrets) and Jean Deflandre (Alcest drummer, also playing with Les Discrets at the time): This self titled album is their only full-length released and the last work before splitting up because of internal disagreements and according to rumors also because of Audrey’s open affiliation with neo-fascism and embarassing nationalist right wing ideas.

But even if their carreer was short lived, this album is already an iconic and really wonderful release, with uniqe way of portraying grey urban landscapes through the melancholy of post-punk with some black metal influences.

A strong tribute to Joy Division is certainly not hided here, clearly perceptible across the enthralling bass driven sections of songs like Gas in Veins and Les Ruches Malades, but there are also strong tributes here and there to bands like Asylum Party (Amesoeurs), The Cure (Video Girl), and even some very dark massive metal moments (I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX – IX XIX – IV V I IV and Au Crépuscole de Nos Rêves). Guitar work and songwriting here are incredible, showing very simple, but yet absolutely emotional moments, expressed with sad arpeggios and touching melodies. Also Audrey’s vocals are very well crafted and seems absolutely perfectly mixed with the music offering a unique and magic performance.

Amesoeurs is another worth to listen album you absolutely need to know, it is a fantastic journey across abandonment and sad human feelings, screamed at loud in a city where no one is paying attention to the others, and where the skyscrapers’ shadows are devouring you.

Une Matinée D'hiver | Les Discrets

Les Discrets “Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées” (2010) 

Fursy Teyssier is a very talented video maker, designer and painter, known for its unique style and creativity; the project Les Discrets is the demonstration that he is also an amazng songwriter and musician.

This is the first album of his solo project, released after Amesoeur’s split up, and with the help of Jean Deflandre on drums who is already behind the rhytmic sections of Neige’s main project Alcest; it is also interesting to mention that at the time both Neige and Fursy were playing live bass on the other’s respective project.

Needless to say that this is another fantastic jewel emerging from France 11 years ago, merging dark post-rock (L’échappée, Songs for Mountains) with french chanson (Une Matinée d’Hiver), acoustic guitar driven folk and even some Ulver’s Bergtatt recalls (Les Feuilles de L’Oliver). Frusy’s approach to music is very original and shows a strong personality emerging from his beautiful voice and his evocative lyrics.

This album contains one of the most impressive atmospheres that melancholic music has created during the last decade. Absolutely recommended.

Lantlôs – .Neon Review – Last Rites

Lantlôs “.Neon” (2010)

One of the most suggestive and beautiful metal albums released in the last years, .Neon is one of the most interesting and well realised things of the whole post-black metal/post-rock hybridation.

Dark jazz vibes, urban desolation, nocturnal music, Deftones inspired parts and black metal blast beat driven section are just only a few of the things you’ll find in this masterpiece, which is the perfect soundtrack for a lone walk at night through the urban lights, able to let you drown into the beautiful calm of dreams. Lantlôs is the solo project of Markus Siegenhort from Rheda, Germany, an artist and music producer that made some of the best music of the period and never disappointed an album with this project.

The very original vibes present here on .Neon make this album absolutely unique and beside the almost perfect songwriting and execution (Markus plays all instruments) should be mentioned the good suffering vocal work recorded by Neige (who also provides some french singing on Neige de Mars) and the beautiful cover art designed by Fursy Teyssier (who also made the artwork of all the records i have mentioned till now).

The way post-rock and black metal are balanced here is fantastic, Markus has actually a really good music knowledge and he’s not only a metal musician, but is really aware of what post-rock, shoegaze and noise rock are, and that is perfectly perceptible basing on the way this album sounds like; perfectly riverbered clean tremolos and amazing guitars with a distortion tone halfway between icy sound and modern production that makes every part to sound like something coming from a nocturnal dream. If you are familiar with insomniac nights, this is the perfect album to hear during them. Definitely one of the records of the decade.

mortuusinsomnis777: Cold Body Radiation - The Great White Emptiness

Cold Body Radiation “The Great White Emptiness” (2010)

Ok, seems like the bands from the scene around Neige are finished on this list.

Cold Body Radiation is one of the bands that circulated a lot when the first flowers from the blackgaze seeds where flourishing, alongside projects such as Sleeping Peonies, Dernier Martyr and Sun Devoured Earth. The things that associates this band and all these ones i mentioned is a very fuzzy and raw use of guitars, which is in a certain way typical of some not so famous space shoegaze bands such as Flying Saucer Attack and Alcian Blue.

This album has in fact a lot in common with the most noisey form of shoegaze, but it’s still very melancholic, melodic and black metal influenced with its icy screams and blast beats.

Despite its raw nature, this album is incredibly organic, and the wall of sound on the most melodic parts totally hits you with an immense power (Close your eyes and listen to White Light for a demonstration), also the use of dirty distortions makes the bass even more audible with its proggy verses (Loss, Radiance).

Dark, suggestive fascinating and mysterious.

Deafheaven "Roads to Judah" - Deathwish Inc

Deafheaven “Roads to Judah” (2011)

Alongside Bosse-de-Nage, Deafheaven is America’s first answer to the blackgaze euophoria, and before creating their own way  of approaching the genre with the following Sunbather, they were already answering in a less original, but absolutely impressive way to the genre.

After the release of a very good demo in 2010 that gave them the inclusion in Deathwish Inc.’s roster, they put out one of the most intense and interesting american black metal albums of the last decade.

Even if a strong Lantlôs influence is present here, Defheaven also shows strong roots on the US atmospheric black metal way of sound providing influences from bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Weakling and even Liturgy.

The album is divided in 4 very long movements, marked out by dark and desperate blast beat explosions, very melancholic atmospheres and some very convincing post-rock interludes, that shows how the band really knows how apporach to such style (at the time their line-up included members of shoegaze bands Whirr and Nothing). Deafheaven is indeed one of the first bands showing real post-rock and shoegaze roots compared to the other european colleagues who were mostly people coming from black metal who discovered post-rock and shoegaze very lately and only beacuse of this new trend.

As i already mentioned on the intro, Deafheaven will later become the most distinctive blackgaze band around with the release of their masterpiece Sunbather and completely changed the approach to the genre, influencing mostly musicians outside metal to embrace such vibes, while in the early it was the opposite.

Also the lyrics here should be mentioned, showing a completely original take, different than any other similiar band who have approached this music; narrating stories and reflections on everyday life with a very impressive poetical work and lexicon.

In conclusion Roads to Judah is another foundamental piece of this puzzle, providing some of the most beautiful melancholic tunes created at the time.

Heretoir | Heretoir

Heretoir “Heretoir” (2011)

When blackgaze started to become a thing, a label in particular answered immediately to this new trend; this label is Pest Productions from China and a foundamental blackgaze release from them is a compilation entitled The World Comes to an End in the End of a Journey, that immediately became a cult release for people interested in such atmospheres.

Heretoir was one of the almost unknown demo projects present there and it is the one that got the bigger recognition not much years later.

This is the debut album by the german one man band leaded by musician David Conrad, who answered with strong Lantlôs and melancholic black metal influences to the blackgaze genre. This album is very good, even if it shows some imperfections on the production, which is way too raw and dry on a post-rock perspective, and on a sometimes too repetitive songwriting; but beside these two things this is undoubtely beautiful and worth to listen.

The song Fatigue is still one of the stronger Heretoir tracks, with its decadent depressive vibe able to let you drown into wonderful sad melodies; this journey into pure sadness than continues through a few instrumental interludes and reaching other high points on the songs Graue Bauten and the conclusive long Heretoir. Also the vocals shows a very good clean singing, often enriched by beautiful harmonisations, accompanied on the other side by black metal screams that are not too impressive, but that certainly do their work.

With the following album The Circle (2017) the band will release a more mature album that also sees the addition of Thärnenkind/King Apathy members, showing a more various and complete repertory of influences and embracing anti-fascist sensitivity, which is always a good thing.

From The Swamps

Dopamine “Dying Away in the Deep Fall” (2010)

Technically this is an unofficial release that started to circulate in 2010 as a digital/streaming fan made album, based on unreleased material of a project recently disbanded; it will be officially released by the band with a different cover only in 2019.

Dopamine is another band part of the split The World Comes to an End in the End of a Journey released by Pest Productions: formed in China under the influence of Alcest, on this album they show a very strong influence from the french band providing sad melodies (Melting, Dying Away in the Deep Fall), but also more post-rock oriented vibes (Incised by Water). Production is generally fine, but sometimes too dry,  which is a common problem of albums released at the time.

However the overall feeling related to this album is definitely good, Dopamine certainly knows how to craft emotional music and even on the more depressive black metal influenced parts (i can hear also a strong Austere, Woods of Desolation tribute) they remain sticked to an original formula. At the time this record had already become a sort of cult album among blackgaze listeners, which is pretty much atypical for an unofficial release.

Harakiri for the Sky | Harakiri for the Sky | AOP Records

Harakiri for the Sky “Harakiri for the Sky” (2012)

Nowadays Harakiri for the Sky is one of the bigger names of the genre, even after the Sunbather revolution that dosen’t influenced much their formula.

This duo was formed in Austria in 2012 between Vienna and Salzburg, and it is composed by Michael Jimbo Jones (Vocals, lyrics) that provides the hardcore influences (a good trademark for the band in my opinion) and Mathias Sollak (all instruments and songwriting), which comes from a more black metal background.

When this self titled album came out the band was pretty unknown and their music has been received as a sort of mix between the newborn post-black metal/blackgaze (Lantlôs, Alcest), modern german post-black metal in the vein of Agrypnie and atmospheric black metal inspired by Austere and Woods of Desolation.

Harakiri’s musical approach is pretty distincitive and differently than very similiar bands like Heretoir and King Apathy they haven’t changed much their style through the years on their five albums, the production has always been very modern, a bit too digital sounding for my taste, but certainly coherent.

This is with the following Aokighara (2014) their best effort in my opinion, showing proudly their enthralling drums driven sections accompanied by melancholic metal guitar melodies and hardcore-ish vocals.

Il debutto Dreariness, tra depressive black e shoegaze

Dreariness “My Mind is too Weak to Forget” (2013)

Even if it is not the best by this band, this albums is important to be included since it chronologically closes the cycle of very well received albums before the release of Sunbather, and it is obviously more associable to the Écailles de Lune influenced formula.

Formed in Rome, Italy back in 2012 this band revolves around three members with some constant collaborators. After an unpleasant experience with an old vocalist that continued to use the band’s name and instrumental arrangements, the remaining members answered to this event by forming their own version of the band with a more convincing and solid imaginery and sound (the other band have released nothing more than demos) expressed thorugh this album.

Distincited by some very extreme vocals (which is probably the only metal thing alongside some double kick patterns), and long minimal songs with very catchy melodies, Dreariness’ formula have been very well received. Some moments here are very good like the incredibly melancholic chorus arpeggio of My Mind is too Weak to Forget, or the one from Lost, both beautiful and intense. Also the very addictives melodies of One Last Wish (which is one of the best songs on the album) are definitely impressive.

Beside that some other moments (Coming Home, Dysmorphophobia) are not convincing in the same way, and the very digital and compressed production haven’t aged really well, especially guitar distortions  that are probably the most penalised element.

In 2016 Dreariness released Fragments, a more mature album that shows more post-rock direction and some very good songwriting moments.