Best of 2022 – Top 10 reissues
Our guide to the best of 2022
Whether it was Warp’s intention or not, the innovations introduced via ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and its similarly impressive 1993 sequel fundamentally changed discourse around electronic music and techno specifically. Suddenly, sofa surfing was just as valid as dancing. In the years since, we’ve never looked back.
It’s an impressive cast list, too. Aside from Dr Alex Paterson, whose Tangerine Dream-esque ‘Loving You Live’ (a radically cut-down shuffle through the Orb’s breakthrough single ‘A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Ruled From The Centre of the Ultraworld’) offers an LP-ending nod to the earlier ambient house movement, most of those featured either ended up becoming Warp mainstays (Autechre, Richard D James, the then members of The Black Dog and Plaid, who appeared as I.A.O, and B12 as Musicology) or then high profile producers from overseas (Speedy J and Richie Hawtin as Up!).
Moodymann’s fourth album sees its first ever vinyl reissue this year via Peacefrog. And while it’s nowhere near as lauded as Silentintroduction or Forevernevermore, its every facet drips with the same feverish, unlikely jazz and beatdown moods you’d expect from Detroit’s trickster-prince.
Here’s a lesser-known fact: the album’s cover, garnished loudly by a distinctive red rose, is inspired by a Temptations album released a decade earlier, Special, which features a near-identical rose on its own cover. Released on Motown in 1989, The Temptations were well into their confident twilight years by this time, and from the leading, slow-soul hit ‘Special’ to the driving new jack swinger ‘She’s Better Than Money’, it’s clear this music was the kind to inspire sheer loving confidence.
As part of Drexciya’s latest reissue campaign with Tresor, their most defining album ‘Neptune’s Lair’ here gets a rerelease with brand new cover art from Detroit contemporary artist Matthew Angelo Harrison, not to mention a fresh remaster.
Perfectly representing the DIY flair of their original deep-sea electro sound – with rough analogue electronics submerged in lo-fi, as though they’re being drowned a Drexciyan merman – we’re more than happy to have ‘Andreaen Sand Dunes’, ‘Universal Evement’ and ‘Surface Terrestrial Colonization’ grace our ears again.
Mike Paradinas amassed a fine body of work under the stage name u-Ziq through the 1990s. The Planet Mu label head is currently reissuing some of it with Lunatic Harness, his fourth album, from 1997, the latest to get the treatment. It came out of the so-called drill & bass movement but was more pretty than most from that niche sub-genre.
While Aphex Twin and Squarepusher always went for abrasive textures, he delves into more celestial and suspensory sounds rich in shimmering melody. It remains one of the best IDM albums of any era, with its original double LP form expanded here across four discs of rarities and remixes.
It’s been quite a year for Ride fans, what with Andy Bell of the band dropping multiple releases and the shoegaze legends’ first four EPs and Going Blank Again LP getting the reissue treatment.
The first EP here, simply titled ‘Ride’, was emblematic of the band’s sound and, outside of that sphere, paved the way for an entire genre that redefined indie music after the implosion of The Smiths in the early 90s. After that, and before ‘Nowhere’, came the subsequent EP’s ‘Play’, ‘Fall’ and ‘Today Forever’, which make up this loveably sprawling blue vinyl boxset.
The late, great Susumu Yokota made many terrific records, though few are quite as revered as 2004 set Symbol, which up until last year had only ever been available on CD. It got a limited vinyl pressing in Japan in late 2021 and is now available worldwide thanks to this white vinyl pressing from Lo Recordings. The album itself is simply stunning: a perfectly pitched fusion of neo-classical orchestration, melancholic piano motifs, ambient textures, sampled vocal refrains and beats that variously touch on instrumental hip-hop, IDM and soft-focus Latin grooves. Atmospheric, evocative, melodic and impeccably produced, it remains Yokota’s most musically expansive and cinematic release. It’s the sort of set that everyone needs in their life, whether or not they’re a confirmed admirer of the Japanese artist’s other work.
Not only notable for first public appearance of a certain Baxter Dury – yes, that’s him with his dad on the sleeve – Ian Dury’s debut studio album New Boots and Panties!! made a big splash upon release in September 1977, . It was a broad stylistic work with a wide range of influences from pub rock to funk, disco and early rock and roll as well as British music hall traditions.
It’s low on hits – they came shortly afterwards – but nevertheless often thought by fans to be the standout album of his career and it’s not hard to see why, from tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll hero of a bygone age (‘Sweet Gene Vincent’) and his father (‘My Old Man’) to the irresistibly groovy portraits of larger than life characters like ‘Clever Trevor’ and ‘Plaistow Patricia’.
Just as Capitol Records’ Rob Gordon described Radiohead’s Kid A as a “business challenge”, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was deemed a “career-ender” by Wilco’s label Reprise. In fact, the label was so dismissive of the record that they refused to release it, forcing Wilco to self-release via their website.
But much of the work here is radiofriendly and fairly unpretentious. The record’s appeal is in lacing this fairly uncomplicated music with an abrasive experimentation rare in the typically organic palette of Americana. Compare the odd drums, noisy dissonance, and strange sonics of ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’ with the upbeat accessibility of ‘Kamera’. Tweedy’s despondent vocals and lyrics are teased here before falling into strained desperation on ‘Radio Cure’. Where ‘Kamera’ contains Tweedy’s plea “phone my family, tell ’em I’m lost on the sidewalk”, ‘Radio Cure’ feels eerily like a hopeless acceptance:
The story goes that Donna Summer wasn’t t happy when she heard the final version of her most iconic hit ‘I Feel Love’. She didn’t like how sexualised her vocal had become next to the iconic synths sounds.
No such problem (we say with tongue firmly in cheek) with this album and its title cut, an epic, 16-minute plus track that takes up one whole side and proves invaluable to DJs of many different complexions everywhere. The flip side tunes are slow and sentimental (‘Full Of Emptiness’), disco-tinged and funky fresh (‘Need-a-man Blues’) and beautifully tender lullabies (‘Whispering Waves’), but there’s no mistaking what’s taking top honours here, and it’s an all time great.
The tale of Basement Jaxx’s evolution is one of flexible, eclectic club DJs slowly becoming arena filling live act. ‘Remedy’, their debut from 1999, is all about transferring their club skills onto vinyl, from the Selecter cut up ‘Same Old Show’ to the good time ragga-laced garage of ‘Jump ‘n’ Shout’.
There are hints of the finely tuned house machine they will become, from ‘Yo Yo’, ‘Red Alert’ and ‘Rendez-vu’, of course. But it’s all part of the rough and ready mix that will doubtless evoke vivid memories for those who saw them hone their skills at sweaty late night pub back rooms across Brixton and Camberwell in the run up to this first time round.