Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? I hope 2022 is kind nice to everyone. 2021 was quite a strange year. Time seemed to lack any kind of linear flow, I still can’t believe it’s a new year. But we move. With so much music released last year, there would naturally be albums that I either didn’t know about at their time of release or discovered them late and never got into them properly. It’s been a really special year for music, and there is so much more music on the horizon to get excited for. I hope to keep busy this year with new releases, but for my first post of 2022, here are 10 albums, in no particular order again, that I have overlooked, but deserve recognition.
Equiknoxx – Basic Tools (Mixtape)
I discovered Equiknoxx last month while browsing through Bandcamp. The Jamaican music collective comprising of Shanique Marie, Bobby Blackbird, Gavsborg, Kemikal Splash & Time Cow released an incredible album titled Basic Tools (Mixtape). It’s a rhythmic, upbeat and engaging body of work that stylistically mixes elements of dub, reggae, neo-soul, and hip-hop to great effect. Some of the grooves and melodies on the project are just incredible, and their ability to bring so many influences into one distinct, signature sound is inspiring. Definitely a project to check out and support!
Ben LaMar Gay – Open Arms to Open Us
I’ve never made this official, but International Anthem is my label of the year. They always release quality music, and Chicago multi-instrumentalist and composer Ben LaMar Gay’s new album Open Arms to Open Us is one of the best of the year. With tribal drums, infectious grooves and ethereal synths and captivating horn melodies throughout, this is truly one of the most captivating and fascinating jazz albums to come out last year. There are some truly hypnotic moments on this album, and the soothing, soulful soundscapes capture so much soul, it’s quickly becoming one of my favourite jazz releases of the year.
Artifacts – ...and then there’s this
Flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Mike Reed make up Artifacts, an incredible Chicago-based jazz group that released one of the most innovative, experimental jazz albums of the year. It’s titled ...and then there’s this, and features some subdued yet poignant compositions that are hypnotic and utterly beautiful. It’s amazing how rich in texture this album is, and the chemistry between each band member makes this such a memorable listen. Nicole’s flute melodies are powerful, Tomeka’s cello grooves are hypnotic, and Mike’s rhythmic drumming is captivating. One of the better jazz albums I’ve listened to this year, for sure.
Klein – Harmattan
I discovered London-based multi-instrumentalist Klein early last year through her weirdly hypnotic and almost disorienting electronic experiments. Her sonic muses and soundscapes are breathtaking, as she channels her intimacy and vulnerability through sound in the most incredible way. Her new album Harmattan sees her delve into classical music, with incredible piano compositions that are just flawless in every sense of the word. They evoke so much beauty yet a feeling of loneliness, yet there is a warmth and a charm to her music that is truly special. I’ve been truly enamored by this album since its release back in November. Go listen to it, it’s truly special!
Rosie Lowe & Duval Timothy – Son
Multi-disciplinary London-based artist Duval Timothy teamed up with the incredibly talented singer and songwriter Rosie Lowe last year for a gorgeous and soulful album titled Son. Duval Timothy’s piano and synth-led compositions over the years have been nothing short of utterly mesmerising and so incredibly emotive, so teaming up with Rosie Lowe for a full project was definitely something I was excited for at the time. The compositions are sweet, soulful, poignant and delicate, as Rosie’s vocals bring this soothing and incredibly hypnotic quality to this beautifully composed piece of work. It’s an album I regret not reviewing at the time of its release, but one definitely worth your time and energy.