2022. There have been some great moments in music this year, now we have returned to normal life and all the clubs are open again and, hopefully, this review of the year at Phonica and the records that have landed can highlight some of those great moments.
This year saw us enjoy a freedom from the supressions and depressions of lockdown life and back to a somewhat normality. We started throwing our monthly parties again around London and even had a whopping Record Store Day in the shop with Dennis Bovel, Luke Una, Nix and many more and was closed off by the legendary Robert Owens. Not only that but we had some brilliant instores from the likes of Mount Kimbie, Krystal Klear, Ryan Elliot, Liquid Earth and more. Of course none of this would be possible without the loving support of our patrons and friends.
As with every year, we present our annual round-up of our favourite records. Other than some blips with supply, the releases have not eased up as pressing plants, labels and distributors tried to catch up with their release schedule, delayed during the pandemic. It was also a very sad year in that we devastatingly lost some of the music industry’s most respected, best-loved heroes from Terry Hall to Manuel Gottsching, Angelo Badalamenti, Joyce Sims &Gal Costa . Rest in peace.
So, as the year draws to a close,we want to thank all of you for your continued custom and support and we will see you in 2023!
Just a note on how we compile these charts – you will have noticed we haven’t ranked them this year, although we would say that our preferred choices are at the top! The lists are compiled from both the staff picks, customer and DJ charts, and our bestsellers – although, for the rarest records, we can never get enough stock, all records must have had a vinyl release in 2022! There may be some we have missed as we had to restrict the numbers somewhat – but please see it as a way of illustrating what we like, what you like, and some things you may have missed. It doesn’t mean these are better than anything else. So enjoy our round-up of 2022 and feel free to share your thoughts.
Welcome to our selection of our favourite albums of 2022. As you might expect, it is the discovery of new, exciting records that makes life rewarding at Phonica, as we open boxes from labels and distributors to find mind-blowing music from all over the world.
Albums are a little easier to choose for a year best-of than singles & tracks, there is some consensus as to what constitutes a ‘good’ album and there was far more agreement here than in other categories. Here you will find staff favourites, bestsellers and those records we just couldn’t get enough of, both in appetite and physically, no doubt, due to still huge delays at the pressing plants…
Sitting at the top of our Best of 2022 round-up, and many others too, is the outstanding Nu Genea “Bar Mediterraneo” which was the very funky and Balearic follow up from their last excellent output “Nuova Napoli”, after their slight name change. Another dash into the world of balearic tempo’s but also touching into dubby and Arthur Russell-styled vocal experimentations was the debut album from long time Pender Street Steppers member Jack J, a definite highlight of most of the staff this year. Of course, we also need to mention the beautiful album from the Gabriels “Angels & Queens”only got a limited vinyl release in 2022 but will be re-released in the new year. Hip-hop album of the year by a mile was Kendrick Lamar‘s ground breaking “Mr Morale & The Big Steppers” which undoubtedly became one of the best selling albums thanks to his stunning Glastonbuty perfomance.
Melchior Productions LTD‘s “Vulnerabilities” was the house music album of the year – spread across so many styles over three 12″‘s showing the true diverse range of producer Thomas Melchior , maintaining his rolling minimal and techy patterns that we have come to love so much on Perlon. But up there too as the house album of 2022 is NYC house legend Kerri Chandler‘s ‘Spaces and Places’ quadruple album (also available as limited samplers too!). This kept us dancing all year long as we were drip fed the samplers throughout 2022, proving that Kerri is still at the forefront of house. Tom Carruthers‘ “Programmed World” wa a stunning homage to the sound of Sheffield Bleep n Bass as weell as classic Detroit techno and Soichi Terada‘s “Asakusa Light” gave us that Breezy japanese style that we have always loved with this veteran producer.
Rather than focus on particular tracks, we prefer to focus on entire singles here at Phonica, be they 7inch, 10inch, or 12inch – there has to be a physical release for it to be included in our chart. It’s the hardest chart of all to compile, as these short tracks or EPs are far more subjective than an album and far less consensus amongst us. So here, we are looking at those singles or tracks that made an impact, that provided us with the soundtrack to nights, those that sold a lot at the shop, and, most importantly, those loved by our staff members here.
The dancefloors were truly back in full swing this year, with lockdowns far behind us. Standing tall on our list, and by far our biggest seller, was of course Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet‘s monster anthem “Looking At Your Pager”. A tune that mysteriously flowed through some of the biggest DJ’s sets for years with its incredibly catchy yet chopped vocal and of course lots of wub, Its fair to say we think many fans were overjoyed to see its release! Another artist we have to mention is Joy O, who continued to have another top year after the release of his first full length in August of last year. “Pinky Ring” was another anthem avidly heard through many a festival system that finally saw its 10″ release this year. It doesn’t get more peak time than this one. Or does it?… An extremely close contender was the return of Berlin DJ and Producer Objekt with “Objekt#5”, this one took chuggy basslines to earth shattering levels. Other tunes that definitley pricked up our ears was Shanti Celeste‘s excellent debut on Hessle Audio with a very cute and fun offering titled “Cutie” of course! Berlin based G.E.O. Corp took dream house and trance to whole new addictive aural experience with “Labrynna” and Soso Tharpa provided some glitchy yet driving UK techno with “Evolution”.
It was also a busy year for our in-house Phonica labels as we finally caught up with the delays during the pandemic, big floorfillers from Lea Lisa, Eli Escobar, Austin Ato (i see a pattern here….!) alongside Nuage & Ben Sun.
It wasnt all “DUSH DUSH” in the singles world of 2022, Phonica Special Edition provided some beautifully crafted reinterpretation’s of Tomaga from the talented minds of Floating Points & Marta Salogni for a charity outing in dedication to the late Tom Relleen. Bobby van Putten and Danilo Plessow (MCDE) were undoubtedly running one of the labels of the year, Space Grapes, who kept on teasing us with limited amounts of these stunning modern funk classics the highlight being the second outing from Mad Honey, “Setback” a piano filled and catchy disco groover recorded live and mastered from tape, but also Jeroboam‘s ‘Freakshow’. Sound Signature dropped the 7″ of the year we think with the Amp Fiddler affiliated 1981 funk jam “Spaced Outta Place” and on top of all that Burial also made his long overdue return with the soundscapingly beautiful and mind soothing Antidawn.
Needless to say the list could of gone on forever but this list is in our opinion some of the finest moments of 2022.
Although there are far fewer compilations around these days, those vinyl compilations that do get a full release have been elevated: lavish artwork, extensive histories, and sleeve notes all showing off the hard work put into the art of the compilation. Playlists and mixes have become the standard way for DJs to show off the gems that lie in their sets, so these days, there is no need for a commercially produced mixed CD with only the established series such as Fabric, Late Night Tales and DJ Kicks still releasing mix CDs these days.
Highlights this year include Luke Unabomber‘s diverse selection on “E Soul Cultura” via Mr. Bongo, a proper compilation showcasing his talents to bring different strands of music together and the funk-inspired Detroit gems finely selected by Mr. Theo Parrish for DJ Kicks. Other fine moments came from Heavenly collecting some of the great works from the late Andrew Weatherall over two volumes which showcased some of his best remixes and productions over a long career. Bob Stanley from St. Etienne‘s amazingly curated “Fell From The Sun” showcased the 98 beats per minute balearic sound explosion of the early 1990’s featuring gems from Primal Scream, Critical Rhythm, One Dove and more.
It may have come out in small numbers in 2021 but got an extensivve repress in 2022, Transmigration’s incredible gathering of gems from the years of Susumu Yokota’s EBI guise gave us a view into his trippy acid numbers, whilst this year it was his Stevia project that was given the repress treatment , with our favourite being ‘Greenpeace’ on the reissue albums chart. Young Marco marked the earlier half of the year with another volume of his excellent 90s Trance explorations via “Planet Love Vol.2” showing what Sven Vath, Dance 2 Trance and the rest had up their sleeves back then! A deserving mention goes to Fabric, London’s most famous club who relaunched the label to release original music alongside 2 compilations from Nicola Cruz & Leon Vynehall, both called “Fabric Presents”. Not forgetting Anthony Naples & Dj Python’s soothing dive into space via “Air Textures VIII” and finally Dennis Bovell‘s dub-tastic retrospective “The Dubmaster: The Essential Anthology” which if you havent forgotten blew a hole in our speakers on record store day.
Reissues continue to shine a fresh spotlight of records that were overlooked when they first surfaced or were so limited that they instantly became sought-after. In 2022, we are back with another collection of outstanding albums, lovingly re-issued and repressed, saving us from those Discogs sharks or listening to these records only on YouTube. The number of quality reissue albums doesn’t seem to be abating despite the high cost of vinyl manufacturing and still seems to span across many genres.
Top of the pile is a much-needed repress of one of the most seminal compilations in electronic history, Warp‘s “Artificial Intelligence”, 30 years after its initial release. ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was notable for early appearances by people who went on to become pioneers of the hypnotic groove for both Warp and electronic music in its entirety such as LFO, Black Dog, Aphex Twin and Autechre – a who’s who of electronic music.
Other honourable mentions were some of the many excellent reissues of the late Susumu Yokota like 1997’s “Green Peace”(Under his Stevia alias) conjuring up a heady concoction of dusty loops, sampledelic breaks, kraut-rock and psychedelic downbeat as well as his inspiring album from 2004 “Symbols” which took classical compositions from many recognisable composers and twisted and mutated them to make sounds which wouldnt have dawned on many at that time. Chicago house legend Larry Heard gave us a second chance to get our claws on “Amnesia” under his Mr. Fingers pseudonym which hadn’t seen the light of day officially in over 32 years! A must have for any US House maestro.
Marvin Gaye‘s phenomenal “What’s Going On?” celebrated its 50 years on earth with a special reissue with an extra 12″ of unheard demo’s and goodies. Verve records rejuvenated our love for the jazz masterpiece that is John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman. A truly underrated gem of Jazz.
Reissues continue to shine a fresh spotlight of records that were overlooked when they first surfaced or were so limited that they instantly became sought-after. In 2022, we are back with another collection of outstanding singles, lovingly re-issued and repressed, saving us from those Discogs sharks or listening to these records only on YouTube. The number of quality reissue singles doesn’t seem to be abating and seems to have spread vastly across many genres including several very hot dance reissues.
Sitting firmly in our memory are singles like Sound Metaphors’ Miss You subsidiary reissuing Italo hidden gem “Automaticamore” from Patrizia Pellegrino from 1981. The chorus alone would make any dancefloor blow up to smithereens! Sound Metaphors should definitely get the star prize in 2022 for introducing us to obscure records we had never even heard of before , including the delightful Phillip Bodden with ‘What A Heat’, a Calypso groove. Numero sourced out some classic 7″ reissues this year spreading from Cheryl Glasgow‘s disco beauty “Glued To The Spot” from 1987 to Dan Boadi‘s afro-tastic funk “Money Is The Root Of Evil” from 1967 all the way to Junei’s 1970’s guitar disco filled masterpiece “Let’s Ride”. Another 7″ we couldn’t get enough of was Eunice Collins‘ “At The Hotel” from 1974 which got the full reissue business after being hidden in the shadows for many years, reaching Discogs heights of $700.
Electronic and dance reissues stoood out in 2022 from Berlin label Transmigration revisitin