Complex Distractons Presents : Favorite Albums Of 2022 Part II

And we’re back.

2022 was a pretty great year for music. I can’t remember a week that something amazing didn’t drop, and with independent artists there’s no limiting their output. Musicians don’t have to hold back their creativity; they write and release when they want. This is a great thing, but also a situation where someone like me who writes about the music can feel a little overwhelmed. The amount of independent artists and labels putting next level sounds into the atmosphere is incredible, and I don’t always get around to hearing all of it. But the good thing is that it’s always going to be there for when I do get around to listening.

Just know that I listen to as much music as I possibly can, and will spread the word however I can.

Okay, let’s get to the next 10.

zakè and Ossa : Syntheticopia

zakè and Ossa set the controls for the heart of the galaxy on their space-journey album Syntheticopia. Building this analog-heavy synth journey around a narrative about our earthbound musicians setting off to space to collect sounds from the Milky Way, zakè and Ossa make a record that feels as big as the universe. Grand sounds, emotional heft, and a feeling that opens eternal, Syntheticopia is a monumental statement in ambient/heavy synth music.

Listening to this album in its entirety, I get an overwhelming feeling of warmth and peace. It’s not unlike some of Disasterpeace’s work for games like Fez and Hyper Light Drifter. The music feels simple only in that you can slip right into it and get lost in its circuital embrace.

Weird Nightmare : Weird Nightmare

On Alex Edkins'(METZ) debut release as Weird Nightmare all those hunches you held that METZ could actually be this amazing grungy, jangle-pop college rock band come to fruition. Edkins channels mid-60s British Invasion, late 60s garage rock, and early 90s indie rock and gives it a woozy shoegaze aftertaste that is the perfect salve for any lousy day.

This album was a big surprise for me this year, as I’m a huge METZ fan and it seemed to come from out of nowhere. Edkins has a knack for writing great melodies and works well within the confines of pop music. And his post-punk guitar is still loud, brash, and jagged, but he tames it into a sound that is more J Mascis than Thurston Moore. This album is infectious.

Pike VS The Automaton : Pike VS The Automaton

Matt Pike is a character. On top of that he’s also the weedy King of doom/stoner metal. Between Sleep and High On Fire he’s cornered the market on dank, chugging riffage. He’s also kind of a conspiracy nut, which can sometimes be pretty interesting and also sometimes sad and cringe-y.

Regardless of his THC-induced fever dreams the man is a legend and a master of the riff. While the world shut down in 2020 Matt Pike spent some quarantine time with a couple pals willing to brave Coronavirus in a garage and the result is Pike VS The Automaton. What you get is sort of a happy medium between Sleep’s slow sludge of dilated pupils high and High On Fire’s slash ‘n burn ripping speed metal. It’s a back-to-basics metal album that the great Iommi would be proud of.

Deathcount In Silicon Valley : Vampyroteuthis Infernalis

Andi Dixon’s Deathcount In Silicon Valley dropped their debut Hex Void way back before the virus changed the game. His debut with Burning Witches Records was a sci-fi and synth nerd’s wet dream, filled with cascading beeps and swirling sonic doom. Five years later and Deathcount has returned on SFI Recordings with the dense, heady, and ethereal Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. A hazy, drone-heavy album, V.I. has the hallmarks of the best Komische has to offer; cosmic drifts, hazy soundscapes, and the feeling that these songs bloom once they’re in the ear canal and skull. As if lifeforms are and blossoming in your cranial cavity. Trippy for all the right reason, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis is a soundtrack for LSD space drifting.

Tangerine Dream : Raum

When the great Edgar Froese passed away in 2015 it felt as if we lost our own musical Gandalf. A man that paved the way to what has become modern electronic music. Tangerine Dream played everything from experimental electronic freak outs to deep space meditations to even more pop-oriented music in the 80s. They also redefined what a film score could be, and who could write one.

After Froese passed the name Tangerine Dream kept going(at his request) and band member Thorsten Quaeschning became defacto leader(Froese had made Quaeschning musical director in 2013.) In 2017 Tangerine Dream released Quantum Gate, which was based on musical ideas Froese had sketched out over the years. It was a stunning album with depth, emotion, and the heart of Froese beating throughout. On this year’s Raum, Tangerine Dream(which consists of Quaeschning, Hoshiko Yamane, and Paul Frick) have made their first full album post-Froese that is all new, original material. Make no mistake, this is a Tangerine Dream record down to its very DNA. It’s stunning on every level, and maestro Froese would approve.

Rude Skott Osborn Trio : The Virtue Of Temperance

Martin Rude and Jakob Skott made two records in 2020 as a duo. On those two releases the duo explored the expanse of acoustic and electric elements with Skott’s loose percussive style that melds jazz, psych, funk, and Latin rhythms. These were dusty albums; desert acid folk hymns for the new age apocalypse.

This year the duo became a trio with the addition of saxophonist Tamar Osborn. The result is Rude Skott Osborn Trio’s The Virtue Of Temperance, a slinky, hazy slice of modal jazz and the more hazy soundscapes of Mwandishi-era Hancock. There’s always a groove to lock into, which leaves these tracks open for Osborn to lay waste to your psyche with sax and flute. Of course there’s plenty of electronic blips and beeps to keep things on the cosmic side.

From Overseas and City Of Dawn : Misty Memories

Kévin Séry(Guitar, OP-1, Vocals) and Damien Duque(Guitar, Synths, Tape loop textures & manipulation) are From Overseas and City Of Dawn, and their collaborative long player Misty Memories is a transcendent ambient record. It plays on ideas of memory and the passing of time, with these two musicians building sonic set pieces to times in the past and places we sometimes can only find in dreams.

Misty Memories is a beautiful record. It instantly puts you in a calm place, and allows you to open your mind and feel some light. Light that may not have found an opening otherwise. There’s vulnerability here. Something I think we sadly lack in these days.

Ty Segall : Hello, Hi

The prolific singer/songwriter Ty Segall is never far from a new release, either under his own name or with one of his many side projects/collaborations. The last few Segall LPs toyed with weirder vibes and incorporated electronics. First Taste and Harmonizer bordered on Thee Oh Sees flavors, incorporating robotic elements to his garage/psych DNA. On Hello, Hi Segall makes a mostly acoustic record that feels like a breath of fresh air. After the late night vibes from recent releases, Hello, Hi is like friends strumming in the backyard after a heavy day. It’s still Ty, but a calmer Ty.

A Place To Bury Strangers : See Through You

For that loud, jagged, overblown post-punk sound that gives the impression it’s all going to go up in a mushroom cloud there’s nothing better than A Place To Bury Strangers. Oliver Ackermann’s long running noise rock/post-punk/shoegaze band has a record of consistent albums, curated by noise and feedback that takes you to the brink of insanity, but pulls you back just in the nick of time.

See Through You never relents in sonic aggression, while also showing an almost noise pop side at times. With Ackermann and John and Sandra Fedowitz(of Ceremony East Coast) as APTBS rhythm section, the band sounds as tight as ever, and the songs are as loud and frenetic as ever.

Earthless : Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons

Whenever there’s a new Earthless album it’s a time to celebrate. The band, fronted by guitar wizard and sometimes singer Isaiah Mitchell, is a force to be reckoned with. With Mitchell and his soulful, bluesy, lightning fast playing and the rock solid rhythm section of bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, this band gives new meaning to “power trio”.

Black Heaven was their last full-length, which had more vocals than any releases previously. On this year’s Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons Earthless went back to basics with an epic three-song long player that covers three vinyl sides and takes you on a musical journey that is influenced by the folk tale of the Yokai(amazing album art illustrated by bassist Mike Eginton.) If you dug albums like Sonic Prayer, Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky, and From The Ages then Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons will check all the boxes. –J Hubner

We’ll see you next week for a couple more posts before the top ten drops. Until then, have a great weekend.

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