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Music Of The Month: The Best Albums And Tracks Of January 2023
Patrick Clarke , January 27th, 2023 11:12

As 2023's deluge of new music begins in earnest, team tQ pick out the albums and tracks we think you should be listening to

For me, 2023 has got off to a strange start. Just a month in, and already the highs have felt higher and the lows lower than usual. After my first 'full' festive season following two covid-impacted lowkey Christmases, I feel as if I'm still reeling.

Perhaps that's why the only music that's really cut through for me this month has been the most abstract and challenging, the kind weird enough to find a space entirely transcendent from the ups and downs of everyday life and force you to look beyond. Music like Kali Malone's new three-hour ambient opus with Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley and cellist/composer Lucy Railton, or Rian Treanor and Ocen James deconstructive semi-improvised collaboration Saccades (both listed below).

That said, despite what some might have you think tQ is not only about that sort of thing. In our list of January's finest you'll also find straight-up bangers from the worlds of pop, indie, rock and dance. It is, as ever, as broad a round-up as we can manage.

All the below, as well as all the other excellent music we've covered at tQ this month will also be compiled into an hours-long playlist exclusive to our subscribers. In addition, subscribers can enjoy exclusive music from some of the world's most forward-thinking artists, regular deep-dive essays, a monthly podcast, specially-curated 'Organic Intelligence' guides to under the radar international sub-genres 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 2023.
Patrick Clarke


Deathprod – Compositions

We find Deathprod resisting the long-form lure of earlier releases such as Treetop Drive and Morals & Dogma. Here, Sten has opted for short sharp sub blasts, with the languid, lolling sounds unravelling at the rate of inflation. He shifts from one pulsing mass to another as delayed echoes bounce across seemingly distant canyon walls. The roll of a volume pot draws a roar back into life. It sounds huge and foreboding, as if alien signals are being sent and received through the vast, cold void of space. Travelling silently until they collide with willing ears.
Jon Buckland – read the full review here.

Kali Malone – Does Spring Hide Its Joy?

Recorded with Stephen O’Malley on guitar, Lucy Railton on cello, and a skeleton crew of technicians in Spring 2020 at the then empty spaces of Berlin’s Funkhaus & MONOM, the hour-long composition – presented here in three variations – feels like an echo and half-forgotten memory of those moments spent in isolation and lethargy. As on Malone’s The Sacrificial Code, the music is again a monumental, texturally and harmonically rich drone that moves in waves, maintaining a dynamic presence despite its languid pace. But where that 2019 release saw the Swedish musician and composer rely solely on pipe organs, on Does Spring Hide Its Joy she turns to sine wave generators. Tuned to her own system, the oscillators allow a wider and finer range of control, from vibrating motifs not far removed from acoustic organs to microtonal scintillations that gesture towards primordial electronic synthesis. One can imagine that both Olivier Messiaen and Iannis Xenakis would admire these expressions that sit equidistant from the organ explorations of the former and the electronic inventiveness of the latter.
Antonio Poscic – read the full review here.

Mark Jenkin – Enys Men (Original Score)

It is a meditative and, in its own odd way, soothing record, but Jenkin has sequenced it to stop you from getting too comfortable. Some of the noisier moments, ‘Hunros’ and ‘Bleujen’, particularly, recall the haunted audio of Drew Mulholland’s albums for the Castles In Space label, all rapidly decaying tape loops and snatches of intercepted AM radio. A sudden burst of static and a MAYDAY call for help at the end of ‘Menhir Pt. 1’ is jarring enough to make you leap out of your seat, while the two ‘Jynnji’ tracks alternately clatter with the tools of long dead miners and reverberate with the pounding of something massive at work deep beneath your feet.
Will Salmon – read the full review here.

Daniel Pioro – Saint Boy

Though Saint Boy hops from century to century and style to style, it does so with ease. Hildegard von Bingen’s ‘O Ecclesia’ bridges austere violin melodies with suspended organ tones; it doesn’t feel so far away from the placid harmonics of Lilja María Ásmundsdóttir’s ‘A Glimpse of An Open Heart’, which follows. Though these two works are separated by hundreds of years, they offer us similar experiences, both occupying a wide-open expanse. Similarly, Tartini’s three-movement Violin Sonata in G Minor (“Devil’s Trill”) opens the album by placing us squarely in the Baroque era; the piece’s trills, fast-paced riffs and ornamentations mixed with clear, concise structure are decidedly of the time. But Pioro’s interpretation feels fluid, underscoring the freer aspects of the work, and by the time Nick Martin’s Kolysanka emerges, performed by Pioro and Tinker, that sense of thoughtfulness takes full force. It’s an extension of what’s already been said rather than a turn towards a completely new direction.
Vanessa Ague - read the full review here.

Abracadabra – Shapes & Colors

You could describe the sound of Abracadabra as "Memphis style," where Memphis wouldn't be the world capital of blues but the influential design group led by Ettore Sottsass. In the 1980s, Memphis subverted all the rules of interior design. Abracadabra's tracks, like Memphis products' clashing colours and haphazard arrangements, incorporate various influences from many genres, mixed and used in an unconventional way, giving what appear to be playful and colourful easy songs a deeper meaning to be discovered.
Guia Cortassa - read the full review here.

Rian Treanor & Ocen James – Saccades

Saccades doesn’t so much as follow the hardcore continuum as set it on fire. Jungle’s potent kickdrum explodes on the opening bars of ‘Tiyo ki’ before the paranoid beat disintegrates into shuffling footwork, a reedy instrument growling like a demonic chainsaw. Techno pulsations echo on ‘Naasaccade’ as if the track was recorded in a dripping underground cavern, while the microtonal twang of 'Memory Pressure' resembles an electroacoustic nightmare. If previously Treanor has stated that he is interested in the limits of dance music, finding the precipice of what would be unplayable in a club context, then he has certainly reached that goal. Still, it’s hugely satisfying to imagine a DJ wielding a song like ‘As It Happens’, maybe even re-inventing its sparse jolts of experimental noise with multiple layers, effects or loops in an act that Treanor himself would surely approve of.
Hannah Pezzack – read the full review here.

Samia – Honey

We are blessed with countless female singer-songwriters baring their souls today, but Samia has an edge and a warmth that stands out. On her sophomore record Honey, growing pains are swapped for wise reflections on what remains in early adulthood. In her case, it's lo-fi synth pop undercut with rich production and piercing vocals, littered with personal voicemails and lessons for a lifetime.
Ella Kemp


Marlene Ribeiro – 'You Do It'

The first taste of this former GNOD member's first solo LP is sublime, a dreamy and blissed out slow-burner that is impossible to resist.
Patrick Clarke

John Cale feat. Fat White Family – 'The Legal Status Of Ice'

The inclusion of Fat White Family here is something of a thin red herring. Tech savant Cale uses their contribution as a textural, colouring agent, adding stretches of granular depth to his crystalline composition. There's so much going on here, the stems must look like a producer's stress dream, some never ending game of Frogger, but it comes together in a nupped out reverie, the brain's opioid receptors still firing, depths and shallows drawn closer together, the abysmal come down still only a faint suggestion, lurking.
John Doran

Delmer Darion – 'First Photograph Of The Nebula In Orion'

A response to the titular 1880 photograph, this excellent six-minute single begins as a plaintive cut of meditative alt-folk, before a sequence of sonic disintegration pushes it outwards into beautiful abstraction.
Patrick Clarke

Jessica Winter – 'Funk This Up'

Jessica Winter excels in post-Pregoblin mode, as underlit dance floor destroyer; she claims these sublime moments are very hard won but that's not how it feels at the point of appreciation. This track should be so big it attracts its own Limmy sketch...
John Doran

Kara Jackson – 'Dickhead Blues'

There's a deftness to Kara Jackson's work that marks her out as the kind of singer-songwriter who only comes along once in a while. These two tracks are drifting and sprawling, packed with subtle inflections of texture, but never loses track of a razor-sharp focus.
Patrick Clarke

Truth Club – 'It's Time'

The sheer rhythm of Raleigh band Truth Club's first song in four years that makes it so exciting, a rollicking, lolloping, tightly coiled spring of a track that's impossible to resist.
Patrick Clarke