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Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of January 2022
Patrick Clarke , January 28th, 2022 09:13

Here are the seven finest albums and 11 best tracks of the year so far, as picked by tQ staff

I feel like I get through more music in January. Perhaps it's the return of routine after the fragmentation of Christmas, and the (inevitably shortlived) renewal of effort to stick to that routine, or maybe it's that fleeting sense of wonder at how the year in music will be defined. Perhaps it's just the dearth of anything else to be getting on with.

However you slice it, I've been listening to a lot this month, and as a result this January has felt more fruitful than most. Below, you'll find the tQ staff's picks of the bunch, from the boundary-pushing brilliance of Iceboy Violet to the kaleidoscopic delights of the latest from Nyege Nyege Tapes.

All the below, as well as all the other excellent music we've covered at tQ this month will also be compiled into an exclusive, hours-long playlist exclusive to our subscribers. In addition, subscribers can enjoy exclusive music from some of the world's most forward-thinking artists (previous commissions include Roger Robinson & Richard Skelton, Alison Cotton, Better Corners, Nik Void And Alexander Tucker), regular deep-dive essays on everything from James S. Lee’s drug memoir Underworld Of The East to the weird history of Accrington Stanley FC, a monthly podcast and more.

To sign up for all those benefits, and to help us keep bringing you the kind of music you're about to read about below, you can click here. And read on for the best of the best from January 2022.
Patrick Clarke


Iceboy Violet - The Vanity Project
(2 B REAL)

The lack of connection over the last two years has clearly marked Iceboy Violet's debut mixtape. The unsettling distortion and death-like tempo on 'Atone//Blankface' is drenched in desolation, as is the skittering and minimalistic, Space Afrika-produced 'Urban Ambiance'. The isolation goes much further back than the pandemic though: the mixtape delves into issues of race – like the loneliness of growing up in a predominately white area as the artist did as a teenager in Halifax – and art too: when you're making music the mainstream can't define or describe yet in a hinterland of rap, electronica, grime and noise, where is your place?
Elizabeth Aubrey – read the full review here

La Roche - Liye Liye

Released via evergreen Kampala, Uganda-based label Nyege Nyege, La Roche's headspinning new LP Liye Liye is the first in a planned series of releases exploring the fertile underground experimental scene of the Democratic Republic Of Congo. This record is the perfect start to that programming, a record that juts joyously from one beat to the next, prismatic whirligigging synths rubbing shoulders with brutal minimalist machine gun beats.
Patrick Clarke


For an artist who has released only two albums over the course of eight years, calling something a 'mixtape' instead of an album or EP can feel like a statement of intent. It signals CAPRISONGS as a place for FKA twigs to think less, try new styles, and make tunes that can be vogued to, partied to or played with. My fear was that testing the waters with a dozen new styles would mean jettisoning the parts of twigs' music which make her work so special. I should have known better. CAPRISONGS is light on its feet and more accessible than her tricksier electronic work but, whether she's delivering dancehall, hip-house, afrobeat or drill, almost all of these are songs which could only have twigs' name on them – take the glitchy, snatched vocals on 'ride the dragon' or the elegiac harp at the end of 'lightbeamers', mixed among the sub-bass and the hi-hats.
Liam Inscoe-Jones – read the full review here

Eiko Ishibashi - Drive My Car
(Newhere / Space Shower)

Drive My Car's tracks cycle through different versions of the title track and 'We'll live through the long, long days, and through the long nights', finding strength in subtle changes of tiny details. The first time we hear the sweeping melody of 'Drive My Car', made of swingy rhythms and an ascending melody, the feeling is that of childlike wonder. But upon a later return with 'Drive My Car (The truth, no matter what it is, isn't that frightening)', after poignant ups and downs and stirring strings have coloured the once-optimistic soundtrack, there's a greater sense of knowing. This time, the piano is laid bare, rolling chords with deeper emphasis and melancholy. In these simple yet profound transformations, Eiko Ishibashi creates a narrative within the theme and variations, tracing a musical path that stands on its own.
Vanessa Ague – read the full review here

John M. Bennett - A Flattened Face Fogs Through
(Editions Basilic)

Poetry is a versatile old dog. It can serve as solace, as cheer, as a bawdy glimpse into adult life. It can rattle our preconceptions and warm our hearts, gift us a home in a barren land, and bore our undercrackers right off. And, sometimes, it can rewire our brains. Through incongruent word-twists synaptic lightning links unsuspecting neurons across previously untravelled brainscapes. With prose that tumbles like raindrops from a shook tree, John M. Bennett does this with at least two plombs on A Flattened Face Fogs Through. So, be warned, this is a space for those who don't like having their hands held.
Jon Buckland – read the full review here

Tanya Tagaq - Tongues
(Six Shooter)

Opening Tongues with 'In Me', Tanya Tagaq snarls and growls and spits a daunting invocation based on passages from her 2018 book Split Tooth. "Eat your morals / eat your thoughts / your sinew / your pith / peel off your skin." Her words are ablaze and all-consuming like those of a malignant spirit. They teeter on a thin edge between controlled extended technique and unrestrained improvisation, draping over a technoid pulse and pulverising bouts of noisy club constructs, this is a space for those who don't like having their hands held.
Antonio Poscic – read the full review here

Various Artists - Symbols Clashing Everywhere

I've had an infuriating earworm for about 37 years now. Every so often I start hearing John Foxx barking the chorus to 'Young Savage' except the words he uses are: "Jon Savage! Jon Savage!" For many years Gary Numan was accused of being nothing more than a Bowie rip off. It was a weak observation, Numan getting much of his initial inspiration from Foxx, who admittedly did bring a bit of Bowie (and a bit of Ferry) to the post-punk party. Both Tubeway Army and Ultravox feature on this 100% recommended compilation from Jon Savage! Jon Savage! Lots of people talk a good game when it comes to the links between disco, reggae, punk, dub and so on, but few can locate the exact intersections with such laser sharp precision.
John Doran


Wojciech Rusin - 'Speculum Veritatis'

It seems that you're not allowed to mention Polish composer Wojciech Rusin without bringing up the fact that he produces (musical) pipes on a 3D printer; but did you also know that his latest single sees him tread the same ground as Ape Of Naples-era Coil, The Cook, The Thief-Nyman and Tomaga?
John Doran

Let's Eat Grandma - 'Happy New Year'

The latest take from Let's Eat Grandma's forthcoming third record is obviously appropriately named (it was released on January 3), but its qualities go far beyond serendipitously timed release schedule. Rarely has their razor-sharp technicolour pop sounded quite so emotionally charged.
Patrick Clarke

Laurie Anderson - 'Big Science (Arca Remix)'

The title track to Laurie Anderson's groundbreaking 1982 album Big Science always had an odd sort of grandeur beneath its minimalist organ tones and oddly Harry Partch-esque percussion, but Arca has souped it up and expanded it into truly epic proportions. Anderson's plaintive wolf howls have become a whole pack, the percussion practically an iron foundry,and the organ fractalised and fragmented and reconstituted as a glorious shimmernig rainbow. Now I want the pair to make a whole album together.
Robert Barry

DJ Narciso & Endgame - 'CUT'

The lead cut from the first collaborative release between Príncipe affiliate DJ Narciso and Bala Club alumni Endgame, out on the always thrilling SVBKVLT label, is a roaring, fidgety piece of club music that finds a sweet spot between the Afro-Portuguese hybrid sound of kuduro and dark, bass-driven instrumentals of UK drill.
Christian Eede

Carmel Smickersgil - 'Questioning'

Carmel Smickersgil's April EP We Get What We Get And We Won't Be Upset will be the musician's very first, but it displays a sound that's already teeming with ambition. 'Questioning', the second single from the release, is at once playful -french horns melding with a manic fragmented vocal line - and unsettlingly intense.
Patrick Clarke

DJ Python - 'Club Sentimental Vol Three'

Coming almost two years on from the "deep reggaeton" of 2020's outstanding Mas Amable LP, the latest EP from New York's DJ Python explores much of the same territory in its low-slung drums and silky melodies. The pick of the record's three tracks is its wistful, sub-100 BPM closing cut 'Club Sentimental Vol Three'.
Christian Eede

Junk Drawer - 'Tears In Costa'

'Tears In Costa' is a charming instrumental, winsome jangles of guitar and looping riffs, taken to the next level by Stevie Lennox's delightfully emotive vocal. It's hard not to get swept up.
Patrick Clarke

Yama Warashi - 'Makkuroi Mizu'

'Makkuroi Mizu', which translates as 'Black Water', was written when Japan-born, now London based Warashi was trying to find nature in the English capital. From that image of gentle longing, she's created a simply gorgeous cut of delightfully textured avant-pop.
Patrick Clarke

re:ni - 'Don't Go Dark'

It's hard to pick just one track out from UK DJ and producer re:ni's killer debut release on Ilian Tape. You can take your pick from the frenetic, UK techno-inspired sounds of 'Reverse Rave' or Latin club music-influenced flavours of title track 'Revenge Body'. Opening track 'Don't Go Dark', though, is a bewitching piece of soundsystem-shaking club music that shares headspace with the sparse experimentations of producers like Klaus (on his Tanum imprint), Logos and Shackleton.
Christian Eede

Decius - 'U Instead Of Thought'

Blistering and sleazy acid house from Lias Saoudi of the Fat White Family, Luke and Liam May of Trashmouth and Quinn Whalley of Paranoid London, set to a video of intense wrongness.
Patrick Clarke

Benefits - 'Meat Teeth'

By now, we know what to expect from Benefits' music: an all-out assault of upmost righteous rage. It says a lot about frontman Kingsley Hall's writing, however, that each new release is still quite so staggering on first listen. 'Meat Teeth' is the sound of Benefits raising the bar once again.
Patrick Clarke

PinkPantheress - 'All My Friends Know (Anz Remix)'

Part of a new remixes package accompanying PinkPantheress' 2021 debut mixtape to hell with it, Anz's remix of 'All My Friends Know' gives the Afrobeats-referencing original track a glossy UK garage makeover primed for cruising in a convertible with the top down – now if only it wasn't eight degrees outside in London at the time of writing.
Christian Eede