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DJ Mag's top albums of 2022

For 2022's end-of-year coverage, we've once again asked our contributors to write about their personal favourite tracks, albums and comps of the year, offering an unranked overview of the sounds that made the past 12 months so memorable for electronic music around the world

DJ Mag albums of 2022 - A to C
700 Bliss
‘Nothing to Declare’ [Hyperdub]

There's so much to love about the debut full-length from 700 Bliss, from its punk energy and political rallying cries to the lashings of subsonic bass and distorted club beats. But the most endearing thing about this collab between Moor Mother and DJ Haram is the fun the duo are having. It's impossible not to laugh as they mercilessly roast themselves on tracks like 'Easyjet’ and ‘Spirit Airlines’, and that sense of camaraderie makes this one of the year's most powerful, and empowering, albums. CLAIRE FRANCIS

Asake
‘Mr. Money With The Vibe’ [Empire Distribution]

In 2022, Nigeria’s Asake dominated dancefloors, social media feeds, hearts and minds worldwide. On ‘Mr Money With The Vibe’, producer Magicsticks provides infectious and meticulous rhythms, solidifying the Lagosian musicians’ ambitions to create a near-Darwinian assemblage of Africa’s most vigorous sounds. Immaculately arranged throughout its 12 anthems, the album’s fuji fusion, irresistible crowd vocals, snaking basslines and breathtaking violins and keys make for a powerful statement – as African dance music genres intersect, their reach and reverence grows exponentially, with each genre-defying beat. SHIBA MELISSA MAZAZA

Banu
‘TransSoundScapes’ [Intergalactic Research Institute For Sound]

With Banu’s debut album, ‘TransSoundScapes’, released on Irakli’s label Intergalactic Research Institute For Sound, the South-east Turkey-born DJ, sound artist and producer shares her most poignant release. Blending ambient, downtempo and trip-hop textures, the Berlin-based artist wrote the album after witnessing verbal harassment in Berlin – where she resides — aimed at her transfeminine friends. The seven-track body of work features meandering soundscapes and several collaborators, including trans artists Patricia Ofelia, Prince Emrah and Aérea Negrot, shaping the most potent tracks of the album. NIAMH O’CONNOR

Black Rave Culture 'BRC Vol 2'
[Black Rave Culture]

“How do we find each other in the noise?” asked the organisers of this year’s Dweller festival, referring to the scarcity of intergenerational connections in Black dance music. Black Rave Culture’s moniker and presence at the festival provided a simple answer to that question. And their second album, dropping months later, suggested that the DC trio has staying power. Amal, James Bangura, and DJ Nativesun mix up sonic ingredients gathered around the Black Atlantic, propelling the culture into the next generation. JAMES GUI

Breaka
'We Move' [Breaka Recordings]

From co-launching the playful aerobics-based club night, Stretchy Dance Supply in Leeds, to creating his eponymous record label, Breaka Recordings — Breaka has been at the epicentre of the UK underground club scene for some time now. Known for his high-energy (often esoteric) production, traversing a wide range of club sounds — from footwork to jungle — this debut LP cements Breaka as one of the most promising and multifaceted artists coming out of the UK. JACK RAMAGE

CB
‘Drillers Perspective 2’ [mayowahd]

CB's 2019 mixtape 'A Drillers Perspective' is widely considered to be one of the strongest long players to come out of the UK drill scene. But the Forest Gate MC's career was slowed when he was sentenced to 23 years in prison in the same year. Little has come in the way of new music since, until 'Rap Or Road' dropped in April, and teased 'A Drillers Perspective II'. It's risky releasing a sequel to something with such a legacy, but one of UK drill's most acerbic rappers delivered a 17-track collection that lived up to the hype. ROB MCCALLUM

Central
'Softness / Up And Down' [Help Recordings]

Central hails from a small coastal town in Denmark that became one of new school house's hottest outposts in the mid-2010s. He's remained mad busy since on everything from indie ballads to producing an R&B album for Erika de Casier. But this year's two double albums are his best work yet: effortlessly silky house with stylistic embellishments that elevate them above mere 'tool' status. Some is dubby, some is minimal, all of it is seductive and with a fresh perspective that doesn't come along all too often in the house world. KRISTAN J CARYL

Confidence Man
'Tilt' [Heavenly]

At the time of writing, Australian outfit Confidence Man have just finished up their impressive UK tour, bringing their most recent album ‘Tilt’ to the masses. It packs even more punch when performed live. Filled with fun hits, energetic bangers and flirty singalongs, it’s an album everyone needs in their life. A dose of indie electropop, and an ode to ‘90s big beat, tracks like ‘Holiday’ and ‘Break It Bought It’ are on repeat. We want more. LIAM SMITH

DJ Mag albums of 2022 - D to F
Daniel Avery
'Ultra Truth' [Phantasy Sound]

In his recent DJ Mag cover interview, Daniel Avery described his early production career thusly: “It’s not making anonymous club music, it’s making records that hopefully couldn’t be made by anyone else.” He’s still at it. Heavy with shamanic ambience, with stops along the way for billowing tech-funk lullabies, elegiac industrial dirges and the most sublime electro imaginable (among its other aural pathways), ‘Ultra Truth’ feels both deeply personal and hugely monumental. It’s raw, immersive, and simply one of the most beautiful albums we’ve heard in years. BRUCE TANTUM

Daphni
‘Cherry’ [Jiaolong]

Dan Snaith revived his dancefloor alter ego in 2022 with an album that sounded like it was a joy to make. Released out of the blue three years on from his last Daphni EP, ‘Cherry’ was composed of 14 addictive, club-geared cuts, a world away from his poppier Caribou project. Purposefully short and punchy, for digital DJs to loop at will, each cut was nonetheless packed with ideas, from ‘Mania’s bumping psychedelic house to ‘Cloudy’s bittersweet jazz piano. Adventurous and immediate, it tapped into the rapturous, bona fide return to clubs and festivals. BEN MURPHY

Decius
'Decius Vol.1' [The Leaf Label]

Amidst a sea of wallpaper house, Decius’ tunes stand out deliciously. Often harking back to the rawness of Chicago house music’s Black/LGBT roots — think: Adonis ‘No Way Back’ — this album is a fitting soundtrack for dark sweaty basements and back rooms. Tracks like techno trembler ‘Masculine Encounter’, squelchy heavy-breather ‘I Get Ov’, the low-slung and dirty ‘Look Like A Man’ and ‘Quick Reliefs’ could all be dropped at Berghain, and bode well for live shows for Decius in 2023 off the back of this corking collection. CARL LOBEN

DJ Q
'Est. 2003' [Local Action]

With 'Est. 2003', DJ Q dropped his first album in eight years. Arriving in September via Local Action, the LP compiles 11 tracks of straight-for-the-jugular UK garage gold; 36 minutes that demonstrate a producer still at the peak of his game, almost two decades deep into a celebrated career, and in a year when UKG is top of the agenda. Featuring three solo cuts alongside collabs with artists like Todd Edwards, Lily McKenzie, Star.One, Sharda and Hans Glader, it's arguably Q's collaboration with Finn, 'Speedy Gs', that’s had the biggest impact on the dancefloor. ROB MCCALLUM

Duval Timothy
'Meeting With A Judas Tree' [Carrying Colour Records]

Nobody sounds like Duval Timothy on piano. The artist splits his time between Lewisham and Freetown, Sierra Leone, and there’s something about his music that communicates a certain suspension, an existence between places, conveyed with such poise and calculation that you feel rapt by every note. Kendrick tapped him for four songs on this year’s ‘Mr. Morale And The Big Steppers’, but ‘Meeting With A Judas Tree’ is Timothy at his best, drawing meaning from keys like nectar from a flower. SAM DAVIES

Earthen Sea
'Ghost Poems' [Kranky]

US producer Jacob Long aka Earthen Sea has a unique way of blending genres, naturally flowing between ambient, experimental, downtempo and dub techno, with an affection for atmospherics. ‘Ghost Poems’ on Chicago imprint Kranky exemplifies this so well, drifting between textural landscapes and dusty pads that recur like waves of the ocean. Reinforced with subtle beats that drift between the distant sound of a drum kit and reverberating percussion, this album takes you on a long walk through the forest and into further reams of bliss. ANNA WALL

Etch
'The Further Adventures Of The Cosmic B-Boy' [Purple City]

Etch is a treasure, able to turn his hand to any genre and churn out next-level tracks at a rate that’ll make your favourite producer weep. While not his first foray into hip-hop (as the name suggests), 'Further Adventures' — for the most part — presents a departure from the Brightonian's recent melon-twisting club cuts, instead offering smoker's delights to rival Nightmares On Wax. There are a few warped ‘n’ wonderful dancefloor tracks too, and another dip into sampling that favourite muse of his — Nigella Lawson. Essential listening with ace artwork to boot. BEN HINDLE

FOQL
‘Wehikuł’ [MAL Recordings]

FOQL, AKA Justyna Banaszczyk, is an important figure in Poland’s underground music scene, co-founding Oramics and community radio Radio Kapitał. She also runs Łódź’s alternative music venue Ignorantka and helms the cassette-only Pointless Geometry label, while releasing her own leftfield music for a number of years. And yet, as Banaszczyk has pointed out, Eastern European artists like her rarely get their dues in western music press. As such, the praise she’s garnered in the UK for her MAL Recordings released ‘Wehikuł’ is long-overdue but also well-deserved. Brooding, urgent and disorientating, the post-techno offering is an apt reflection of the region’s current turmoil. KAMILA RYMAJDO

Check out FOQL's contribution to DJ Mag's Selections series here.

DJ Mag albums of 2022 - H to L
Hagan
'Textures' [Python Syndicate]

‘Textures’ is a poignant celebration of the global family of sounds that Hagan has built his name on. Afro-bass impacts on songs like ‘Telha’ — its descending bassline like a grime war dub — alongside bossa nova flair and vocals from Luedji Luna. UK singers like Meron T and Ayeisha Raquel glimmer on his sound too, while ‘Pray for Me’ ends with a recording of his grandma. Title track 'Textures' has a warm saxophone throughout — one of endless examples of Hagan's eye for detail and extensive work with session musicians. Years in the making, Hagan's reputation as a virtuosic producer culminates in an album both expansive and deeply personal. TICE CIN

Check out Hagan's Recognise mix and interview here.

Hudson Mohawke
'Cry Sugar' [Warp Records]

Ross Birchard, AKA DJ/producer Hudson Mohawke, dropped his Magnum Opus this summer in the form of ‘Cry Sugar’. From soaring moments on the LP like ‘Ingle Nook’ and the heartbreakingly beautiful crescendo of synths and strings on ‘Lonely Days’, to a rattling labyrinth of percussion on ‘KPIPE’ and anthemic atmospherics with ‘Stump’, the 19 tracks come together as a treasure map of soundscapes to explore. Inspired by trailblazers like the late Greek composer Vangelis and the mastermind behind Jaws’ soundtrack, John Williams, ‘Cry Sugar’ is HudMo’s OST to the world’s “cultural meltdown”. AMY FIELDING

Read Hudson Mohawke's DJ Mag cover interview here.

Hypaphonik
‘Altair’ [Stay True Sounds]

A new talent that brought a breath of fresh air to the African electronic music space with his unique 4/4 sounds and dubby drum patterns, Hypaphonik gave us a debut that put his name on the map. With standout tracks such as ‘Lutar', ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘Betelguese', Hypaphonik hits all corners of house music and jam-packs them full of soul and energy. With his remarkable production abilities, Hypaphonik forefronts powerful vocalists such as Kali Mija and Xabizo in ways that pull at the heartstrings. KITTY AMOR

Read more about Stay True Sounds, and listen to a mix of tracks from its catalogue, here.

Jeshi
'Universal Credit' [Because Music]

Written during lockdown, Jeshi’s debut album ‘Universal Credit’ seems even more apposite as 2022 ends with the promise of more Tory cuts. Minutely observing tales of estate life, poverty, drink and drugs, the East Londoner brings a kitchen sink realism to hip-hop – documenting Mitsubishi-fuelled escapism, the unemployed monotony of daytime TV, and working-class family dynamics. Undiluted, his delivery adds overtones, moving from wavering frustration to numb detachment, while production echoing everything from DJ Premier to ghostly two-step completes the woozy, stuttering sense of life on the edge. JOE ROBERTS

Read DJ Mag's recent Meet The MC interview with Jeshi here.

Kelly Lee Owens
'LP.8' [Smalltown Supersound]

Written in Oslo in the wake of her world tour’s cancellation due to the pandemic, the Welsh artist’s third album rumbles with raw, pent-up energy; it’s her most live-sounding and cathartic music to date. Working alongside musician Lasse Marhaug, whose previous collaborators include drone lords Sunn O))), Merzbow and Jenny Hval, these tracks – which drift from techno and trip-hop into abstract ambience – introduce tremoring sub-bass and rib-tickling depth to Owens’ luminous vocals and celestial melodies. Listening feels like an invigorating ice plunge. EOIN MURRAY

Knucks
'Alpha Place' [NODAYSOFF CC LIMITED]

In many ways, South Kilburn’s Knucks is the perfect rapper. He makes the right moves without seeming cynical or calculated, and sagely treads the fine line between mainstream success and underground credibility. On this masterful debut — the headline act, following mixtapes ‘NRG 105’ and ‘London Class’ — you’ll find no egregious sampling or TikTok fodder. Instead, it’s a modern rap classic that can stand tall next to anything from the hip-hop canon on either side of the Atlantic —and it’s largely self-produced (alongside Venna). JAMES KEITH

Read Knucks' DJ Mag cover interview here.

Lil Silva
'Yesterday Is Heavy' [Nowhere Music]

Lil Silva’s debut album has been 12 years in the making. Converging his trailblazing sound in the UK funky scene with his instinct for heaven-sent pop melodies, this is a record of butterflies-inducing depth and detail. It’s a rich tapestry of distinct, full-bodied ideas, from the rousing textures of opener ‘Another Sketch’ to the scale-sliding, Sampha-assisted groove ‘Backwards’. Throughout, you can’t predict Lil Silva’s next move: it’s a rare glimpse into the workings of an extraordinary musical mind. SOPHIE WALKER

Lila Tirando a Violeta
'Desire Path' [N.A.A.F.I]

Lila Tirando a Violeta’s work in recent years came from a place of deep suffering, as she struggled with a chronic illness. ‘Desire Path’, however, symbolised a period when her illness became more manageable. This let up came through in brighter melodies and slinky rhythms, which felt celebratory and sensual in parts, drawing heavily on R&B stylings and experimental club, with co-production from the likes of Verraco and Nicola Cruz. Keep your eye on her in 2023. SOPHIE MCNULTY

Lucrecia Dalt
'¡Ay!' [RVNG Intl.]

A “sci-fi meditation” on traditional Colombian musical forms could easily have melted into a lump of exotica kitsch. Yet electronic composer Lucrecia Dalt's technical prowess, which she's perfected over nine albums in 10 years, allows her to open up eerie new dimensions in genres from her childhood like bolero and son, imbuing live instrumentation with a glow of atemporal mystery. In following the story of Preta, an extraterrestrial entity confronting Earthly emotions, Dalt reaches through uncanny valleys to intimate celestial peaks. MARKE BIESCHKE

Check out Lucrecia Dalt's contribution to DJ Mag's Selections series here.

DJ Mag albums of 2022 - M to R
Max Cooper
'Unspoken Words' [Mesh]

Max Cooper is well-known for translating tricky scientific concepts into sound, but on his newest album, he ventures into more philosophical territory. Words are slippery things, according to Cooper, and often fall short of accurately describing more abstract emotions. Veering between aching strings, hectic bleeps and irresistibly frenzied breakbeats, he transforms some of these intangible feelings into music. The record makes a compelling snapshot of the human condition, though the feeling it leaves you with is, fittingly, difficult to name. BECCA INGLIS

Meekz
‘Respect The Come Up' [Neighbourhood Recordings]

Released in November, 'Respect The Come Up' presents one of the most assured real rappers on a mic in 2022. Existing at the forefront of UK rap since the release of his 2020 mixtape, 'Can't Stop Won't Stop', Manchester rapper Meekz has a deft ability to record emotive anthems built on intricate storytelling, and delivered with a largely unrivalled dexterity of flow and clarity in his vocal delivery. Ten tracks are offered up here, including two huge collaborations from Dave and Central Cee. Essential. ROB MCCALLUM

Minder
'Sanctuary' [Hypercolour]

This album has to be heard — it is pure genius. Any record that features a 15 minute track of pure drum & bass madness has to be applauded. ‘Sanctuary’ is packed with 19 cuts of serious dancefloor mayhem, taking influences from rave, jungle and techno. What a mixture — this is serious stuff. It sonically smacks you in the face and commands you to get up and dance. 
MICK WILSON

Montparnasse Musique
'Archeology' [Real World Records]

This debut LP is a breathtaking fusion of both northern and southern African sonics, a great unearthing of sounds both old and future-facing. Stirring guitar riffs and clattering polyrhythms enthuse this album with a certain energy, an emotional force that feels urgent, as well as hopeful. With the traditional instruments of Kinshasa as its starting point, Montparnasse Musique’s ‘Archeology’ pans out to other African metropolises, touching on the bass-laden sounds made popular in locales like Johannesburg — a beautiful reminder of the continent’s contribution to electronic music. RIA HYLTON

Novelist
'4 THA HOMIEZ' [MMMYEH RECORDS]

While UK rap’s mainstream was defined by catchy but ultimately forgettable sample-based drill in 2022, Lewisham grime scene veteran Novelist upped the temperature in May with ‘4 Tha Homiez'. Across 10 tracks, Nov cuts a commanding presence, shelling bars over sun-drenched beats inspired by the Californian G-funk he and his friends blast in Lewisham. Nov’s never been one to follow trends, and with this project, he blessed us with one of the year’s most innovative releases. ROB KAZANDJIAN

ODESZA
'The Last Goodbye' [Foreign Family Collective / Ninja Tune]

Many albums took on introspective shades this year, but few succeeded like the hyper-resonant glory of ODESZA’s ‘The Last Goodbye’ — arguably their best yet. Painted with the cinematic landscapes and buoyant melodies that made the Seattle-based group a household name, their newest LP sends listeners on a sonic journey through their personal genesis with a continuously mixed collection that dances between ambient and meditative, soulful and deep, and pumping and progressive, and feature icons as varying as Bettye LaVette, Juliana Barwick and Ólafur Arnalds. The productions are made all the more memorable thanks to audio recordings ripped straight from the home movie collections and therapy sessions of Clayton and Harris, culminating in an emotional, blissful listen this broken world craves. MEGAN VENZIN

Read DJ Mag's recent interview with ODESZA here.

Ravyn Lenae
‘Hypnos’ [Atlantic]

In a year riddled with banal debates on the death of R&B, Ravyn Lenae’s ‘Hypnos’ put a sock in it. An airy follow-up to 2018’s electro-funk ‘Crush’, the long-awaited debut full-length reimagines influences from neo soul, alt. R&B and Afrobeats. A squadron of enigmatic collaborators — Kaytranada, Sango, Monte Booker, Steve Lacy — help craft the project’s blithe mood, but Lenae’s alluring aura and delicate delivery remain its backbone. Tiptoeing across the 16-tracker — leaving a trail of featherlight falsetto kisses in her wake — Lenae takes her craft to a higher plane and establishes her position as a poster child for contemporary R&B. MAKUA ADIMORA

Ron Trent presents WARM
'What Do The Stars Say To You' [Night Time Stories]

An album for our times, a soothing sonic balm to the tribulations of 2022, 'What Do The Stars Say To You' invites your full attention, welcomes you to bathe in its warmth and humanity and encourages you to submit to its sophisticated charms entirely. It’s soul, techno, space jazz house and cosmic audio futurism. It’s the sound of electricity come to life, perfectly melded with the rich, flowing performances of Trent’s carefully chosen guests and collaborators. Superb. HAROLD HEATH

Read DJ Mag's recent interview with Ron Trent here.

DJ Mag albums of 2022 - S to T
Salamanda
'ashbalkum' [Human Pitch]

Seoul was a hotbed of experimental music in 2022. The city's vibrant underground seemed to explode, but no album captured that better than Salamanda's 'ashbalkum'. The duo of Yetsuby and Uman Therma unleashed the fullest realisation of their world to date, where bright xylophone melodies gossiped with day-drunk rhythms as their own voices swirled like autumn leaves. It was a landmark release for both the duo and the crystallisation of a scene. 'ashbalkum' was the perfect calling card for the sound of Seoul. HENRY IVRY

Get to know Salamanda here.

Sam Gellaitry
'VF VOL II' 'Parlophone]

Sam Gellaitry’s new mixtape is a flurry of thrillingly tonic synthpop. The Scottish producer’s warmly automated vocals express casual angst wrapped in exuberance, but it’s his synthwork that is the most expressive character. It fans out into gorgeous arpeggios on ‘NO SIGNS’, splashes into 8-bit droplets on ‘EUPHORIA (...OK!)’, slips around ‘ANGEL’ and morphs into ‘Human After All’-era Daft Punk on ‘STAR OF THE MOMENT’. These songs are the most more-ish confections of colourful electronica since Rustie’s ‘Glass Swords’. NATHAN EVANS

Shygirl
'Nymph' [Because Music]

Shygirl embodies the divine feminine on her debut studio album, ‘Nymph’. Each track on the record succinctly abstracts the womanly experience. Uncertainty and insecurity take their place in introductory track ‘Woe’; still, the record quickly takes a turn, instead manifesting its sexual prowess through songs like ‘Come For Me,’ ‘Shlut,’  and ‘Coochie (a bedtime story)’, giving the aptly-named album its title. ‘Nymph’ showcases Shygirl’s gift of songwriting through deconstructed club and experimental pop beats, with help from longtime collaborators Arca and Sega Bodega. ARIELLE LANA LEJARDE

Steve Queralt & Michael Smith
'Sun Moon Town' [Bytes]

Somewhere between EP and mini-album, the length of this contemplative masterpiece is irrelevant — its scope is epic. Writer and filmmaker Michael Smith pens a spoken word odyssey through a Britain bankrupted by redevelopment and investment, dystopian observations set to a rousing, cinema-worthy electronica score by Steve Queralt of shoegaze legends Ride. Summing up the feelings of a nation being sold to the highest bidder: “We’ve sleepwalked into the wrong England. So new, it looks like the future. A future no-one wants.” MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT

The Comet Is Coming
'Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam' [Impulse!]

‘Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam’ marked The Comet Is Coming’s transformation from psychedelic jazz three-piece to club-slaying, stage-sequestering dance act. Across their kaleidoscopic fourth album, Shabaka Hutchings’ fluid saxophone playing weaved through the hallucinogenic beat excursions of Dan Leavers and Maxwell Hallett, which ranged across polyrhythmic dubstep, searing electro, laidback machine funk and zonked techno, with some emotive soundtrack material for good measure. With its everything-in-the-pot eclecticism, this felt like a very 2022 record, and affirmed The Comet Is Coming as one of the best bands in the UK right now. BEN MURPHY

Read DJ Mag's recent interview with The Comet Is Coming here.

They Hate Change
'Finally, New' [JagJaguwar]

“This is what full creative control sounds like”, raps Andre Gainey in the opening track of this Tampa duo’s fourth album. It’s true – Dre and Vonne Parks lovingly alchemise elements of British electronic music with fiery bars and Floridian bass; the results are genuinely ecstatic. ‘90s hardcore and jungle breaks, IDM glitches and classic rave samples form razor-sharp foundations for the pair’s audacious verses, which joyfully state their case as a unique creative force in both rap and dance music. EOIN MURRAY

TSHA
'Capricorn Sun' [Ninja Tune]

In astrology, a Capricorn is hardworking and ambitious, as well as pessimistic — and slightly stubborn. They’re all feelings and attributes that London DJ/producer TSHA has felt and experienced as a Capricorn and as an artist, and her debut album, aptly named ‘Capricorn Sun’, is a scrapbook of those sentiments. Through sublime electronics, sun-drenched chords and vocal clips and samples, TSHA paints a picture of an artist who's willing to share the inner-workings of their mind and day-to-day life, and even includes an ode to her puppy Nala, too. AMY FIELDING

Read DJ Mag's cover interview with TSHA here.

Check out DJ Mag's top tracks of 2022 here