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Hyperspecific: The Best Electronic Music Of 2022
Jaša Bužinel , December 7th, 2022 10:09

Jaša Bužinel surveys this year's trends in electronic dance music and presents his top albums of 2022 and ten that got away

Julmud جُلْمود, photo by Ruanne Abou-Rahme & Basel Abbas

The year of the reboot is coming to a close. It's been a bumpy but very satisfying comeback. The energy at some of the sets I attended, like Donato Dozzy's Sunday session at Terraforma, reignited my passion for dance music. It's been a long process, though. Many artists and clubbers I talked to said the readjustment took them a couple of months. We've re-learnt how to small talk, stay awake late and dance again.

Though the situation is now back to "normal," things have changed. The resurrection of club life felt like a dam burst, especially looking at the new generations. There's been an enormous influx of young ravers, DJs and collectives, who've really shaken things up. Talking from my experience in Ljubljana, the defining trend amongst newcomers, and the most baffling for older DJs, was the Marinetti-like worship of speed. Apart from the small bunch who jumped on the classic house and techno bandwagon, the general impression I got was one of "fuck tradition." The fact that I experienced a 160 BPM warm-up set this year speaks volumes. A large chunk of the speedy music played in clubs still possessed a nostalgic aura. It shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as the comeback loosely coincided with the 30th anniversary of rave culture, UK hardcore, jungle and other '90s uptempo genres that followed. It felt like another music cycle had been closed.

While a fraction of the youth was possessed by the ecstatic tunes of happy hardcore, hard trance and hyperpop-adjacent styles, the large majority sold their soul to the pounding kicks of industrial techno. What, for the main part of the last decade, had been a niche for old school ravers became the trendiest techno sound in clubs almost overnight, attracting hordes of harnessed look-alikes all doing that "Berlin dance." Sometimes, I couldn't distinguish this "new" techno scene from the infamous opening scene from Blade in 1998. 2022 hasn't only been about vampiric BDSM techno, though; we're living in a musical multiverse. It's impossible to even talk about trends or specific scenes when each city has ten different niches. To borrow from the title of Daniels Kwan and Scheinert's recent film, the motto in contemporary electronic music is Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Shawn Reynaldo's newsletter, First Floor , has been instrumental in keeping me up to date with the scene's shortcomings. I agreed with most of his observations, such as the slow demise of genre-defining anthems, the Instagram-isation of DJ culture, and the growing influence of brands in dance music journalism. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine has also had a huge influence on the scene, resulting in waves of support and countless charity compilations. It's also severely impacted the European economy and music industry, and, with ongoing inflation, it's probably going to influence it even more next year. Perhaps the only positive thing about this tragedy is that it brought a new sensibility for Eastern and Central European culture, especially music. There's been a newfound focus on the creativity of these regions, and I hope the trend will remain strong in 2023.

For most established producers, DJs, collectives and event series, it's been business as usual. Observing the UK dance music scene from a distance, I saw it reclaim its position as the driving force of dance music culture. Overmono, Joy Orbison and Two Shell released outstanding tunes, but the biggest surprise was Eliza Rose's unlikely smash hit 'B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)', produced by Interplanetary Criminal, which reached a global audience by going viral on TikTok.

Elsewhere, represented by artists like Nick León, INVT and Bitter Babe, the Miami scene should be credited as one of the most adventurous current club hubs, while in the global underground, labels from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, as well as those focussing on the diaspora, have been responsible for some of the most cutting-edge releases. The Kenyan experimental producer Slikback conserved his momentum with a string of superb releases; the young Tanzanian trailblazer DJ Travella conquered the world with his avantgarde singeli sound; Siu Mata and Amor Satyr blew us away with their speed dembow mutations; and US breakbeat scientist Nikki Nair claimed the title of most prolific producer. And my favourite newcomer? No doubt, the supertalented Jordanian producer Toumba, who's dropping his Hessle Audio debut in February 2023.

Going back to Reynaldo's First Floor, one of his most contested pieces of the year addressed the slow demise of the album format with which I can't really agree. That's why I dedicate this column to my favourite albums of the year. I picked albums that feel like a gentle "fuck off" to the debates on electronic music's inability to transcend known forms. These aren't necessarily the most balanced albums, but rather albums that could only be made in 2022; albums that truly come off like a sonic expression of our zeitgeist, making me feel uneasy, curious, surprised and thrilled in new exciting ways. The list is divided into the top five I already covered, and another ten that I wasn't able to cover elsewhere in the column this year.

Hyperspecific's Favourite Electronic Albums of 2022

Kode9 – Escapology

When it comes to electronic music, this LP is the closest you will come to a big screen Dolby Atmos-powered or VR game-like experience this year – an immersive sonic fiction presented as a political sci-fi thriller to be consumed in a single breath.

Siete Catorce – Cruda

Mexican producer Siete Catorce's complex percussive arrangements and rhythmelodic innovations exist at the intersection between African-American drum technology, indigenous folk traditions and global club trends – a singular record both for armchair and club consumption.

BFTT – Redefines

The inventive IDM-inflected UK club music by Manchester vanguard producer BFTT is defined by a distinctly personal tone and highly detailed, shiver-inducing sound image worthy of an Oscar for Best Sound.

Julmud جُلْمود – Tuqoos | ط​ُ​ق​ُ​و​س

Palestinian producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Julmud's debut album is a must-listen. This sample-laden and heavily intertextual record strays way beyond any genre-based expectations, all the while retaining a distinctively alluring sonic aura.

Low End Activist – Hostile Utopia
(Sneaker Social Club)

Grime, hardcore and dubstep mutations are the foundation on which UK bass ambassador Low End Activist constructs his own socalist realism-indebted sonic vision of utopia. This concept album evokes a vibe of urban doom mixed with a sense of communal belonging to a certain scene or district.

10 That Got Away

CS + Kreme – Orange
(The Trilogy Tapes)

This second album from CS + Kreme is perhaps the most authentic experimental electronic record I've heard all year. I simply can't compress it down to a few adjectives or metaphors. It could've been inspired by Jon Hassell's lineage of "Possible Musics," but I guess it's best described as 21st century jazz – or at least that's what I'd want that descriptor to sound like. As if the expressive instrumentals and spectral vocal interventions weren't compelling enough, the song 'Would You Like A Vampire' features the hypnotic vocals of iconic English singer-songwriter Bridget St John. I wish more musicians were as musically intrepid as the Melbourne duo.

ABADIR – Mutate

The SVBVKLT debut by Berlin based Egyptian producer Rami Abadir best encapsulates the boundary-pushing ambitions at the outer edges of contemporary club music. He's blended the tropes of his favourite club genres and domestic influences to create a highly flammable mixture of Arabic folk and urban-indebted club weaponry. It's all gas, no breaks, and really as straightforward and accessible as it gets – the kind of dance music that speaks directly to your neck, hands, hips and feet, bypassing any need to rationalise why it makes you move so hard.

Katarina Gryvul – Tysha
(Standard Deviation)

The interzone between the worlds of classical and modern electronic music sometimes feels too substantial or aggressively theoretical. This is not the case with the Ukrainian composer, sound artist, violinist and singer Katarina Gryvul's debut album, released just days before the Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It's hard to dissociate its tense, sometimes brooding atmospheres from the events that followed. Tysha ('silence' in English) is a deeply moving and poetic album with outstandingly crisp production. It represents a fantastical world on its own – a work of a musical auteur who successfully boiled down her influences, from deconstructed club and classical explorations to IDM techniques and angelic vocalisations, into a dramatic, utterly cinematic listening experience.


Miami duo INVT have been responsible for so many top-tier club tunes this year that I could pick any one of them as exemplary. I adore their playfulness and directness. You really get the impression these two spend most days just churning out new tunes; not because they need to but because they have to. Their many EPs and albums from 2022 are mostly collections of impressively original tools that offer DJs plenty of creative options when it comes to the construction of booty-shaking polyrhythms. LA CHAMBA brilliantly captures their percussion-driven sonic artillery, taking from tribal house, baile funk, dembow, garage, dub, minimal and dubstep while never relying on any hackneyed tropes.


This energising record by Colombian multidisciplinary artist CRRDR is probably my favourite "rare find." Described as "the first sample of Latin Tek," it's a gorgeous offering of avant-garde dance floor pressure which takes elements from Dominican dembow, reggaeton, guaracha, latin bass, perreo, gabber and tribal house. The result is nothing short of exhilarating. The hyper-energetic vibe runs throughout its 11 tracks, leaving no moment for rest. If I had to train for an Olympic marathon, this record would be my go-to playlist.

Lila Tirando A Violeta – Desire Path

The music of Uruguay-born singer/producer Lila Tirando A Violeta also rides the current wave of new-gen Latin American-influenced percussive inventions and folk melodic traditions. Instead of being merely a package of flexible DJ tools, the kaleidoscopic song collection of Desire Path takes you on a mystic sonic journey marked by Homerian siren-like singing, ritualistic undertones and dark club eroticism. It's that rare kind of electronic music that is sensual while also somewhat sinister – an essential 2022 release.

Sarah Davachi – Two Sisters
(Late Music)

This masterpiece from Sarah Davachi is the record that's had the biggest impact on me this year. I first listened to it while travelling Albania and visiting remote tourist-free ancient sites like Antigonia where I spent hours with my girlfriend, roaming the desolate ruins while Davachi's music resounded in the back of my mind. It's a record that genuinely feels sacred – this ode to mediaeval choral music, minimalist drone meditations and chamber composition somehow emulates an eye-opening revelation. In a time when most music lacks any ambition to speak to God, Two Sisters confronts us with the inexhaustible beauty of the divine, whatever form it may take in the eye of the beholder.

Wojciech Rusin – Syphon
(AD 93)

This second instalment of Polish composer, musician and instrument maker Wojciech Rusin's trilogy of record is unique on so many levels. It's a brilliant example of music that has little to no precursors apart from some vague references. It exists somewhere between contemporary ASMR-esque sound design, sculptural sound art, classical choral works, bass-laden electronica, found sound and soundscape composition. Imagine what Bach's St. Matthew Passion would sound like if composed in 2022. Yet, the album offers so much more than just modern reinventions of mediaeval and baroque-style music. When it comes to uncharted sonic territory, Syphon seems to be reaching towards some of the farthest corners of the musical unknown.

Daphni – Cherry

Dan Snaith's return to his Daphni moniker provided me with the soundtrack to so many lazy autumn afternoons. The only "classic" pick from this list, I immediately fell in love with the soothing atmosphere conjured by his sweet tunes, a perfect backbone for sentimental moments both in the club and the bedroom. This probably has a lot to do with nostalgia and the fact that Snaith's influenced the sensibilities of a whole generation, including mine. But it's also a genuinely enjoyable and well-balanced record, full of nods to '80s leftfield disco, the French house tradition, and current aesthetic tangents championed by his mates Floating Points and Four Tet.

Chrisman – Makila
(Hakuna Kulala)

It was frankly hard for me to pick a favourite from the Hakuna Kulala/Nyege Nyege Tapes crew from this year, with the sister labels again delivering some of the most forward-thinking electronic music out there. Still, I think I rinsed this release from Chrisman most often. His productions are skeletal and minimalist while full of intricate polyrhythmic inventions, foreboding drones and metallic sharp synth stabs. Extrapolating his ideas from the "taraxina sound" – a mixture of Angolan kuduro, kizomba dance templates and Durban gqom – the Congolese producer presented his visionary blend of aggressive and ominous percussion-driven East African electronic music with heavy industrial undertones. Dark rhythmic psychedelia at its finest.