All music from the past speaks with the present to inform the future — these reissues and archival projects just so happen to have been released in the calendar year 2022 ... and I loved them quite a bit! This list is unranked and, yes, there is a BNDCMPR playlist of music that can be found on Bandcamp.
Keeping this intro short, but wanted to name some new-to-me favorites found in thrift stores and record store bins (non-reissue discoveries and all that): Shania Twain's Come On Over, Céline Dion's Let's Talk About Love, Heart's Heart, Calypso Rose's Action is Tight, Damien Jurado’s The Horizon Just Laughed, Sleepytime Trio’s Memory-Minus, XTC’s Nonsuch and Judee Sill's self-titled debut and Heart Food.
I was also ecstatic to write liner notes for two albums that were pretty pivotal to my teenage years: I Am the Day of Current Taste by Roadside Monument (Tooth & Nail / Burnt Toast Vinyl / Capitol / Unoriginal Vinyl) and Super Deluxe by Morella's Forest (Lost In Ohio). Hopefully, I can find more projects like these in 2023! —Lars Gotrich
Albert Ayler, Revelations (Elemental Music / INA): These 1970 recordings from Fondation Maeght remain, for me, the eureka moment of 2022. You can hear Ayler making connections across his own music like never before, blasting with ecstatic fury one moment, yet sharing the gospel of the universe the next — tenderly, rapturously, gracefully. Like I wrote for NPR Music: "Ayler knew something we didn't."
Karate; Karate, In Place of Real Insight, The Bed is in the Ocean, Time Expired (Numero Group): Karate is a great example of a thinky, punk-ish band that very clearly had the chops to make something complex and, if you were listening along, the through line from 1995's Karate to 2001'a Some Boots could turn any hardcore kid into a Mingus or Steely Dan aficionado by the band's end. Geoff Farina spends much of the Time Expired liner notes, which collects the latter half of Karate's career — including the crucial turning point, the Cancel / Sing EP — recalling his artistic struggle to be most true to his nerdy-ass self.
Masayuki Takayanagi, Station '70: Call in Question / Live Independence (Black Editions): Sound degrades, reshapes and mutates over the course of this two-night stint in 1970 (there's also an earlier date included). Masayuki Takayanagi's feedback-shrieking free-jazz is uncompromising, yes, but there's still a subtle evolution to this extreme improv — a sound in search of its next prey.
Joyce, Natureza (Far Out Recordings): When Far Out announced the 11-minute version of Joyce Moreno's "Feminina" earlier this year, I literally gasped — it's the Brazilian singer at the absolute height of her musicianship, in a telepathic jam session for her best song. The previously unreleased Natureza, recorded in 1977, offers a lot of what-if's for an artist who should have had her moment back then. Joyce is pretty zen about it all and, as these recordings show, her sense of intricate aural bloom was just beginning.
Celtic Frost, Danse Macabre (Sanctuary / BMG): UGH! Tom G. Warrior finally gave his blessing over a Celtic Frost reissue campaign, shockingly well put together by a major label that bought the rights to Noise Records' catalog. It's a beautiful artifact of metal's most extreme and innovative band, restoring demos, EPs and albums to their rightful formats, making for an enlightening front-to-back listen. (Oh, and no Cold Lake — defenders gotta deal.)
Loren Connors, Airs (Recital): Loren Connors is one of my favorite guitarists of all time, right up there with Jack Rose, Sonny Sharrock and The Cramps' Poison Ivy. Airs, first released in 1999, was my introduction to his spectral style — quiet, patient guitar poems recorded to cassette tape. Nighttime drift music. If you're curious, this is a great place to start.
Nikki Sudden, Red Brocade (Bang!): My favorite British dandy came to Chicago in the late '90s and essentially made a Wilco record.
Derek Bailey, Domestic Jungle (Scatter): An utterly preposterous concept — practice tapes of Bailey scrib-scabbling guitar improv over jungle radio — that brought me the most unexpected joy this year.
Les Rallizes Dénudés, The OZ Tapes (Temporal Drift): A slow clap for Temporal Drift's miraculous work with bassist Makoto Kubota and the estate of Takashi Mizutani on not only this, but also the OZ DAYS LIVE book/box set and three other Les Rallizes Dénudés reissues. I don't think we'll ever truly know how Mizutani imagined how his wild-psych-fuzz vision should "officially" sound — that's the mystery of Les Rallizes Dénudés, wrapped in decades of bootlegs and bad MP3 rips. But damn does this set thrill. Looking forward to whatever else they're cooking up.
Branko Mataja, Over Fields and Mountains (Numero Group): Lowkey the coolest guitar music archival release of the year. A testament to invention through immigration and desperate circumstances, resulting in a sparkling sound unlike any I've heard.
Valentina Goncharova, Ocean – Symphony for Electric Violin and other instruments in 10+ parts (Hidden Harmony): Imagine, if you will, Arthur Russell's World of Echo, but completely improvised — no pop song structures, but a cello unmoored from its body. I've loved the reissues on Shukai, but Ocean coheres the Ukrainian musician's mystic sounds.
Maria de Fátima, Bahi com H (Altercat): Bossa nova with bedroom eyes, but also a Twin Peaks-ian mystic quality. Maria de Fátima had worked with Gilberto Gil, Airto and Milton Nascimento (the latter's influence is especially apparent), but there's a gauzy texture here that's so, so alluring and all her own.
The Lassie Foundation, California & Pacifico (Shogun Sounds): A late '90s dream-pop supergroup of sorts, featuring members crucial to my world (The Prayer Chain, Starflyer 59) and one who went on to join the Smashing Pumpkins. This is the kind of shimmery fizz and fuzz that undulates on pink ocean waves, with falsetto melodies so sweet that Brian Wilson got a toothache.
Incapacitants, As Loud As Possible (Total Black): Of the Japanese noise duo's decades-long catalog, this mid-'90s album very much lives up to its shrieking name, yet there's a surprising amount of nuance to its accidental beauty.
Jam, World is Satisfied / Friends (Ancient Grease): If private-press hard rock, proto-metal and biker jams are your thing, you really need to have Ancient Grease on lock (especially since stuff sells out so quickly). With just one self-released 7" from 1970 to its name, Jam sorta has a Black Sabbath/Jethro Tull vibe goin' down, but on a serious bummer trip — harmonica and flute solos swirl around a thick, cigarette smoke.
Codeine, Dessau (Numero Group): One of those rare instances where the "lost" record does provide something of an alternate universe; in this one, Chris Brokaw never left the band, letting Codeine explore more of the noise hiding in its slow-moving sadness.
Hikaru Utada; First Love, Distance, Deep River, Ultra Blue, Heart Station, Fantôme (UMG / Eastworld): Long overdue vinyl reissue campaign for J-pop royalty. It's the Universal catalog — so no Exodus, Hikaru Utada's daringly WTF hip-pop experiment — so a chronological listen rewards their evolution from cutesy bubblegum to dance-floor sophistication.
Sophisticated Boom Boom, Sophisticated Boom Boom (Tapete): What if, instead of the 1980s' obsession with the '50s (see: Happy Days, Huey Lewis and the News, Back to the Future), the era took '60s girl groups to New Wave shows. Leopard print, polka dots and amp stacks.
AK-47, Badge, Singularities and More! (Splattered): Imagine Animal from the Muppets played drums for the Wipers and that sorta sets the zonked vibe on this collection of the Houston punk band's various this and thats. Originally heard on one of those cult Killed by Death comps.
Living Sacrifice, Nonexistent (Nordic Mission): Living Sacrifice's first era as a groove-heavy thrash/death metal band peaked in 1992. Heinous growls, hefty-and-twisty Gorguts-ian riffs and hell-demolishing drums. But Nonexistent suffered from super-thin production, which was the sound du jour back then. This remix injects more mids and just the right amount of low-end to round out one of the heaviest albums of the '90s.
v/a, Frälst! A Selection of Swedish Christian Grooves 1969-1979 (Subliminal Sounds): How could I not treasure a compilation of obscure Christian rock from my fatherland?! I especially love how some of these Swedes understood that rock and roll owed much of its groove and fervor to straight-up gospel music and just leaned all the way in.
Further Seems Forever, The Moon is Down (Tooth & Nail): In 2001, emo was in a space between its noodly Midwest clutches and the Warped Tour era. The Moon is Down bridged the gap, but was also neither, instead forging a third way: complex guitar and drum arrangements empowered by Chris Carrabba's vocals that channeled hardcore without being hardcore. I initially scoffed at the idea of a coffee table book attached to a vinyl reissue, but the oral history was so illuminating and the layout so dang pretty that now I wanna write a project like this!
Universal LIberation Orchestra, Communion (Freedom to Spend): Did Zomes travel back in time and make a New Age-y jazz record?
v/a, V4 Visions: Of Love & Androids (Numero Group): Any record that scratches my wife's '90s R&B and new jack swing itch is OK by our living room turntable. Of Love & Androids, a compilation of the British label V4 Visions, became essential to our Friday night unwind.
Michael Turner In Session, Live On GTK - August 1971 (Ancient Grease). Another Ancient Greaser. Absolutely rippin' Aussie RAWK. Think Budgie, but meaner, uglier blooze wham-blammers.
v/a, Rapsodie en France (World Gone Mad): Picture the Vince McMahon meme: Punk, hardcore and crust comp. French. Originally released in 1985. On cassette.
Camp One, Revengeful is the Mask of Darkness (Zaius Tapes): What even is this? Siltbreeze had copies, so I snatched one without thinking. Best I figure: Daniel Johnston-style simplicity applied to complex Canterbury prog and razor-thin post-punk?
v/a, Ghost Riders (Efficient Space): Bedroom dreams of young North Americans in the glittering glow of early rock and roll. It's the spiritual follow-up to Sky Girl and, like that incredible comp, follows an emotional narrative rather than a chronological one.
Emmanuelle Parrenin, Maison Rose + 17 Décembre / La Forêt Bleue (Souffle Continu): For a decade, I've had original and reissued copies of this 1977 record on my wishlist, both too spendy. Emmanuelle Parrenin has had quite a career — including a long period of deafness that she allegedly overcame on a desert sabbatical (?!) — and has even released amazing new material (just this year, in fact)... but Maison Rose is absolutely transfixing. French-sung psych-folk with a fantastical, magical atmosphere.