Search Menu
Home Latest News Menu

Mixmag Asia's Best Albums Of 2022

The long-players that kept us moving & grooving through the last 12 months

  • Patrizio Cavaliere
  • 15 December 2022

So, here we are. The year is edging towards its climax, and the Mixmag Asia team have been busily condensing the finest moments of 2022 into nostalgia-inducing digests.

Musically, it's been another luminous year here in Asia, as our list of must-check tracks so vividly demonstrated just last week. If singles releases add fuel to the dancefloors, the trusty long-player allows artists the opportunity to further explore their sonic instincts. Though far fewer albums than singles are manifested, the LP format continues to endure, with all the nuances, narratives, twists and turns that its extended duration supports. We may have had to dig a little deeper to find contenders, but the list we've assembled below contains all manner of sonic pearls and musical delights, with each entry plucked from the farthest corners of Asia's electronic community.

From eclectic dance to hard-hitting drum 'n' bass, abstract ambient to Balearic bliss, once again the region's producers excelled in crafting imaginative and affecting musical textures right across the board. Alongside the albums and descriptions, a chosen track from each of the collections will help whet the appetite of anyone unfamiliar with the releases, and a deeper dive into each of the entries is highly recommended.

Prepare yourselves for a journey into the very fabric of the pan-Asian underground as we present some of our favourite albums of 2022.

Yasushi Ide ‘Cosmic Suite 2’

Title: Cosmic Suite 2
Artist: Yasushi Ide
Label: Grand Gallery
Release: Out now, buy it here

In terms of scope and ambition, it's difficult to see past Yasushi Ide's hugely impressive 'Cosmic Suite' follow-up LP, 'Cosmic Suite 2'. The long-serving Japanese producer assembled a mind-blowing cast of co-conspirators to compose the collection, with almost all colours of the dance spectrum proudly represented. The 16-track album features collaborations with electro/hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaata, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, New York house veteran Josh 'Blaze' Milan, Detroit firebrand Jeff Mills, and British DJ, musician and film director Don Letts, among many others. Journeying across a vast sonic inventory, the collection meanders through house, dub, Afrobeat, jazz, post-punk and far beyond, fusing disparate sonic textures while retaining a powerfully coherent thread throughout. As well as the star-studded international artists assembled, a hand-picked selection of some of Japan's most respected creators were also drafted in, including DJ Krush, Kaoru Inoue, Calm, RECK, UA, Kan Takagi, and album co-producer, Watusi. Few artists would have been able to pull off such a feat, but, such is Ide's standing in the global underground, a truly dazzling ensemble of creative minds answered the call. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results were nothing short of spectacular.

Mogwaa ‘Del Mar’

Title: Del Mar
Artist: Mogwaa
Label: MM Discos
Release: Out now, buy it here

Dextrous musical adventurer Mogwaa arrived on MM Discos with his latest album, serving six genre-defying tracks on the 'Del Mar' LP. The man behind the music, Korean producer Seungyoung Lee, has been in a rich vein of creative form in recent years, with a string of releases on ultra-credible labels (including Star Creature, Bless You and Klasse Wrecks) routinely hitting the sonic sweet spot. His sophomore long-player, 'Del Mar' drifts through styles and sounds and is wonderfully alluring throughout. From the deviant disco swells of 'Where The Wave Beggins' to the syncopated sunset vibrations of 'Kalimotxo', the gloriously enigmatic 'Crackle' to the loose-limbed rhythms and psychedelic swirls of 'Tabarca', the collection bursts with highlights. Mogwaa went on to make his debut on Peggy Gou's Gudu label later in the year, and we're sure there will be plenty more to come from the talented producer in 2023.

Kiji Suedo ‘Riot’

Title: Riot
Artist: Kiji Suedo
Label: Hobbes Music
Release: Out now, buy it here

Talented newcomer Kiji Suedo showed his class with the recent arrival of his debut LP, 'Riot'. Landing on UK label, Hobbes Music, the striking collection features eight mesmerising grooves that veer through Detroit beatdown, glitchy electronica, dusty deep house and far beyond. Expansive, introspective and profoundly original, the music bubbles and broods with thick atmospherics. Evolving through dreamy textures into shadowy topography, the steadily morphing grooves won over an array of admirers in the discerning end of the electronic music spectrum, with the likes of Rush Hour Records' Antal, BBC 6 Music DJ Stuart Maconie, and deep house pioneer Charles Webster are among those to have shown support. Suedo stated that the album was designed with home listening in mind, and, true to his intention, 'Riot' is perfectly pitched for living room meditations or headphone immersion. Highlights include the murky topography and paranoid swells of 'Searcher', and the scattered grooves and hypnotic waves of 'Refuser'.

Rushaki ‘She Speaks’

Title: She Speaks
Artist: Rushaki
Release: Out now, buy it here

Rushaki's debut album 'She Speaks' was among the most personal compositions to emerge from the region this year. The collection of experimental electronica co-produced with Delhi-based singer/songwriter and producer, Bharg Kale, vividly accompanying listeners through the perplexing mental state Rushaki was living through at the time of composition. Throughout the album’s entire 27 minutes, the Indian producer takes listeners into her then-deteriorating psychological state and struggle with mental illness. Glitchy synth lines, idiosyncratic vocal modulations and other chaotic musical elements combine to set the powerfully affecting tone. Rushaki carefully filters all the musical influences gathered throughout past years through her own distinct lens, with the results sitting in the darker shadows on Indian electronica. Intended to be heard in order, the tracks journey through the intricacies of Rushaki’s mind. From the sparkling synths and buoyant refrains of the opening grooves, increasingly harrowing soundscapes emerge as the collection. unfurls. Sampled breath, sentimental chord progressions, distorted vocals and industrial vibrations echo the producer’s cerebral spiral as she desperately tries to regain stability. Searingly honest, this is powerful work from Rushaki.

Nosaj Thing ‘Continua’

Title: Continua
Artist: Nosaj Thing
Release: Out now, buy it here

Nosaj Thing rode in with his first album since 2017, welcoming onboard a host of creative luminaries on the brilliantly expansive 'Continua' LP. Jason W. Chung, better known as Nosaj Thing, has been deep in the game for 16 years and counting. Known and admired for his flagrant disregard for stylistic parameters, the LA-based artist has garnered a hefty international following thanks to releases on the likes of Alpha Pup and Innovative Leisure. ‘Continua’ features 12 tracks of suitably varied genres and tones, including inspired collaborations with the likes of Toro y Moi, Julianna Barwick, Pink Siifu and Korean indie band, HYUKOH. At times pop-centric in tone, the album is nonetheless rooted in the underground, with highlights including the otherworldly swells of 'Skyline' and the brooding breaks of 'My Soul Or Something (ft Kazu Makino). Immaculately produced and entirely engaging, this is more fine work from Nosaj Thing.

Hamza Rahimtula ‘Banjara Series Tibet’

Title: Banjara Series Tibet'
Artist: Hamza Rahimtula
Label: Wind Horse
Release: Out now, buy it here

New Delhi-based Hamza Rahimtula maintained his prolific studio work rate this year, with an undoubted highlight arriving in the form of the latest in his long-running Banjara Series. The 10-track 'Banjara Series, Tibet' album features house-centred compositions inspired by the spiritually charmed mountain territory of 'the roof of the world', including collaborations alongside Tibetan singer-songwriter Yungchen Lhamo and US songwriter and composer, David Hykes. We've closely followed Rahimtula's trans-global productions through South America, Spain, Mali and beyond, and the Tibet instalment maintained the alluring trajectory set previously. Traditional folk motifs are expertly woven into polished deep house grooves, and the album explodes with highlights, with the most immediate of the collection arguably 'Dakini Tales'. Four/four rhythms abound as infectious guitar plucks, mystical pitched percussion and haunting vocal refrains elegantly float over sub-focused bass. Hypnotic, compelling, and primed for in-the-know dancefloors, this is beguiling work from the Wind Horse Records boss.

Coastlines 'Coastlines 2'

Title: Coastlines 2
Artist: Coastlines
Label: Flower Records
Release: Out now, buy it here

Japanese production duo Coastlines returned to Flower Records with their second long-player, serving blissed-out moods via the gorgeously radiant 'Coastlines 2'. The pairing of Masanori Ikeda and Takumi Kanedo have long been associated with the revered and wildly eclectic Flower imprint, and – while their Coastline project has been gaining momentum since launching in 2018 – each are established artists with long and varied release credentials. Ikeda has released a string of solo and collaborative EPs and mix compilations, while Kanedo is perhaps best known for his work with jazz outfit, Cro-Magnon. 'Coastlines 1' arrived on UK label, Be With, back in 2019 following a pair of EP releases, winning innumerable fans from all corners of the Balearic-minded spectrum. Musically rich and endowed with a palpable sense of sunset abandon, the follow-up is every bit as sumptuous, featuring 12 stunning tracks that are each ripe for ocean-side introspection. Highlights include the psychedelic boogie swirls of 'Alicia', the searingly beautiful keys of 'Night Cruise', and the tropical refrains and steel drum strikes of 'Sand Steps'. The entire LP is a perfect wind-down accompaniment and roundly dazzling throughout. Simply stunning.

Mountain ‘Mountain’

Title: Mountain
Artist: Mountain
Label: Soulvent Records
Release: Out now, buy it here

Fast-rising Japanese producer Mountain hit hard with his eponymous album on UK's Soulvent Records, representing nuanced shades of d 'n' b brilliance across the floor-focused collection. Shigeta 'Mountain' Kamiyama has been causing a stir in the drum 'n' bass community, with his high-energy sound finding a platform on revered labels including Hospital, RAM, Liquicity, and Viper among others. His return to London-based Soulvent is an artistic triumph, with the far-reaching album vividly demonstrating the depth of his sonic artistry. The Osaka native expertly surfs through broken rhythms, traversing realms of funk, jazz, liquid, pop, as well as the darker outer reaches of the drum 'n' bass spectrum. 'Mountain' sees Kamiyama collaborate with a carefully assembled selection of his peers – including Makoto, Ruth Royall, and Soulvent label mate, In:Most. Kinetically charged and primed to ignite the floor, 'Mountain' is among the most propulsive long-players to have arrived from Asia in 2022.

FINGERGAP ‘Shan Shan 160’

Title: Shan Shan 160
Release: Out now, buy it here

Hong Kong's very own footwork ambassador showed all his flair on his 'Shan Shan 160' LP, fusing disparate sounds and styles with a contemporary production flourish across the lively collection. FINGERGAP released the album in the height of summer via his hometown label, Holunjeng Records, with the work following on from a pair of impactful singles, ‘City without Wind 沒有風的國度’ and ‘Would You Like to Dance with Me’. Both of these tracks were inspired by the city pop genre that defined Japan and Hong Kong’s pop scenes in the 70s and 80s, and 'Shan Shan 160' continued the artist's love of genre-blending, with the distinct sounds of Canto-pop providing the source material this time around. Joining forces with Kazakh-Korean singer Fedor Yury, FINGERGAP’s compositions interweave the evocative melodics of classic Chinese pop songs with the reckless rhythm and frantic tempo of footwork. Bold, vibrant, and buckets of fun, 'Shan Shan 60' is a typically colourful effort from this maverick producer.

Nightswimmer ‘Xia Ye’

Title: Xia Ye
Artist: Nightswimmer
Label: Shy People
Release: Out now, buy it here

Wuhan-based artist, Night Swimmer, returned to the Shy People label with the sublime album, 'Xia Ye'. The music was inspired by the devastating scenes caused by the Covid outbreak that first appeared in the artist's home province before rapidly spreading to almost all corners of the globe. During this most unsettling of times, Night Swimmer took a night-time trip to the Hubei mountains in a bid to escape the confusion that was unfurling, and the album serves as a sonic metaphor for the peace he found in the unspoiled mountain terrain. The verdant topography he encountered took on a spiritual form, and the dualistic nature of his experience is reflected in the ambiguous Chinese title: Xia, meaning 'summer' or idle, and Ye meaning 'night' or 'wilderness'. The mesmerising music presented in the collection is imbued with a soul-soothing profundity, with Night Swimmer elegantly evoking the indefinable serenity that only mother nature can provide. Subtly powerful and profoundly personal, 'Xia Ye' speaks of the bizarre times we've collectively been living through.

Patrizio Cavaliere is Mixmag Asia's Music Editor. Follow him on Instagram

Next Page