Search Menu
Home Latest News Menu

Mixmag Asia's best tracks of 2022

A dazzling selection of subterranean sounds plucked from Asian dance music's outer reaches

  • Patrizio Cavaliere
  • 11 December 2022

As another year draws to a close, each of us is left to ponder the ups and downs of our latest solar rotation. It's been another roller-coaster on the global stage, with momentous events perpetually dominating news cycles as we do our very best to navigate these changing times. Most (but not all) of the world has reawoken from its pandemic-induced slumber, which has led to a renewed sense of freedom for all, not least those of us who are dance-inclined. Terrifying headlines persist, but at least we can join together once more to collectively surrender to music's soul-soothing embrace.

As is the custom, the team here at Mixmag Asia once again busied ourselves with the task of compiling a selection of some of the very best underground sounds to have surfaced from within the region or via the creative minds of the Asian diaspora. We began with a long, long list, and steadily whittled it down to the eminently refined selection you'll find below. Debates ensued and there were tussles a-plenty, but in the end, democracy was upheld and no punches were thrown (we are, after all, an entirely peace-loving bunch). It almost goes without saying, but we really must say it: the quality of the music we had to evaluate this year was genuinely breathtaking. The Asian underground is exponentially growing; its list of creators is ever-expanding; its sound palette ever-evolving. 2022's top ten features a dazzling mix of sounds and styles from names and faces new and old. We were again pleased to see a multitude of female acts rising to the fore, and overall the quality threshold of releases pitched continues to rise.

From oddball ambience to pounding trance, feel-good disco to pumping drum'n'bass, all manner of musical topography is covered in this sensational selection. So, as we wish you all the most bountiful of New Year's, clear some space in your domicile or workspace, hit play on this list, and lose yourselves in the polychromatic sounds of the Asian underground.

Mogwaa 'From Above'

Title: From Above
Artist: Mogwaa
Label: Gudu
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

Lee, better known as Mogwaa, has long been a favourite here in Mixmag Asia HQ, so it was especially pleasing to see that his work had caught the attention of dance leviathan, Peggy Gou. The tastemaker and industry darling had apparently been a fan of Mogwaa's for some time before a discovering from a mutual friend that Lee was a fellow Korean. His imaginatively spun creations for the likes of Music From Memory, MM DIscos and Klasse Wrecks understandably caught Gou's attention, and the compatriot link made signing Lee to her Gudu label all the more portent. True to his stylistic fluidity, the music is delightfully hard to pigeon hole. Gliding somewhere between deep house. dreamy techno and future disco, sumptuous synths intertwine over throbbing kick and rolling breaks, the genre-defying soundscapes perfectly pitched to enliven wide-eyed dancers.

Jennifer Loveless 'Muzik'

Title: Muzik
Artist: Jennifer Loveless
Label: Butter Sessions
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

London-based Jennifer Loveless returned to Butter Sessions with an expansive six-track EP in the summer, with 'Around The World' meditating on the ever-shrinking world we find ourselves living in. Her music has seen her navigate the globe, engaging with audiences from far-flung territories while absorbing disparate cultures and distant sounds. These experiences helped shape the EP, though it was a casual conversation with her mother that would inspire the collection's title. One of the standouts from an entirely enjoyable set was the lead single, 'Muzik'. Here, space-age synths saunter over sturdy drums and throbbing synth bass as oddball vocals dart across the horizon. Full-bodied and designed to ignite dancefloors, this one is an undisputed banger.

Closet Yi 'Revolver'

Title: Revolver
Closet Yi
Label: Curving Track
Out now, you can buy it here

We've been keeping our focus firmly planted on the evolving work of Korean artist, Closet Yi. She's already made an indelible mark on the Asian dance scene and this release from earlier in the year represents an irresistible new addition to her growing repertoire. 'Revolver' is a gorgeously hypnotic fusion of deep house and techno textures: subtle, balanced, and undeniably propulsive. Taken from her 'Bmore Baby' EP, the track made its way around the world via the clubs and radio waves, with plays on UK's iconic BBC Six Music radio among many other notable appearances. Simply mesmerising.

Manami 'Eventide In Orbit'

Title: Eventide In Orbit
Label: Viscera Transmissions
Out now, you can buy it here

Bristol-based Japanese creator Manami continues her seemingly unstoppable trajectory into deep space with her latest astrally-charged release. Classically trained but rooted in the underground, her sound is endowed with musically-rich sophistication that is absent throughout much of the dance canon. With imaginative chord progressions and dextrous musicality, this trance-embellished underground dance fusion is another prime example of her unique musical voice. One to watch, beyond a shadow of doubt, we're hoping to hear plenty more from Manami in 2023.

Xiaolin 'Dark Knight'

Title: Dark Knight
Artist: Xiaolin
Label: 宀 Records
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

Xiaolin made a triumphant return to 宀 Records with her 'Tower Moment' EP last month, with the Hong Kong-based artist summoning the mystical force of Tarot to help shape the release. Inspired by the Tower Card, which represents new challenges, obstacles, or even danger, Xiaolin related these connotations to a personal period of musical renewal and healing. The EP journeys through the four phases represented by the Tower Card — darkness, acceptance, transformation and freedom — and it's the first chapter that is manifested through the evocative swells of 'Dark Knight'. Extending her bewitching work performed behind the turntables at her 宀 Club residency, Xiaolin vividly sets the mood via ethereal pads, undulating bass and piercing machine drums. True to its intention, this is wildly atmospheric material.

Ground 'Over The Kimi Pass'

Title: Over The Kimi Pass
Label: Chill Mountain
Out now, you can buy it here

Enigmatic Japanese artist Ground is known for his deep, experimental and uncompromising soundscapes. With this in mind, his 'Over The Kimi Pass' release from earlier in the year ticks all requisite boxes to be considered among the best of his supremely impressive catalogue. Having made some stunning appearances on Lovefingers' seminal ESP Institute label in recent years, the release saw him return to his familiar Chill Mountain home with this powerfully idiosyncratic groove. Meandering through psychedelic swirls and dissonant waves, this is proudly leftfield and wonderfully wonky work from the maverick producer.

Lonely Bindi 'This Is – As Close As I Come’

Title: This Is – As Close As I Come
Artist: Lonely Bindi
Label: Accidental Junior / Room 2
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

Newcomer Lonely Bindi made an immediate impact with his debut on Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records offshoot label, demonstrating a formidable command of rhythm via a set of gloriously immersive tunes. The burgeoning artist first engaged with music playing the tabla at his school in the foothills of the Himalayas, and while you might not immediately hear Indian classical threads in these crisp, foreward-facing creations, the expressive tonality of tabla and mathematical beat cycles subtly make their collective presence felt at. Exposure to Western dance music in London as a teenager helped Bindi join the sonic dots, and these diverse influences go some way to describing his uniquely futurist sound. The UK influence is palpable on the brooding landscape of 'This Is – As Close As I Come', with its jarring synths and frantic rhythms combining to form something entirely memorable.

Chuku 'XX XX (Enoo Napa Remix)'

Title: XX XX (Enoo Napa Remix)
Artist: Chukku
Label: Souta
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

Chukku's emotively-charmed 'XX XX' was a highlight of 2021, so the decision to invite revered South African artist Enoo Napa to provide his distinctly floor-focused remix was met with unabated enthusiasm by all of us at Mixmag Asia HQ. Though Chukku's hands have been full while building his stunning Aya Studios HQ in Bali, the Souta label head still carved out time for some inspired curatorial manoeuvres. After connecting with Afro-house specialist Napa online, the newly-acquainted pair quickly formed a sonic simpatico, and this vibrant remix is likely to be the first of many intriguing collaborations between artist and label. Tension builds as hypnotic synths cascade over pulsing rhythms as elaborate motifs intertwine, the rhythm exploding into a dancefloor fervour as dramatic chords and undulating synths burst from the speakers. Powerfully propulsive and wildly atmospheric, we impatiently await further offerings from team Souta.

Farhan Rehman, Hamza Rahimtula, Stalvart John featuring. Loopyjuice 'Dancing'

Title: Dancing
Artist: Farhan Rehman, Hamza Rahimtula, Stalvart John ft Loopyjuice
Label: Dynamite Disco Club
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

Something of a Subcontinental deep house dream team assembled to conjure this kinetically-charged jam. Aptly titled 'Dancing', the disco-fuelled cut is primed for dancefloor eruption. Planted in the propulsive topography between main room house and retro-flecked disco, the sumptuously orchestrated track sees stirring strings glide over shimmering guitars, rolling bass and hypnotic percussion. The powerfully infectious lead vocal adds weight to the groove, its sing-along flex helping to cement the track's anthemic credentials. Bangalore-based Dynamite Disco Club goes from strength to strength, with 'Dancing' likely to generate yet more attention for the DDC brand. Simply put, it bangs.

Mountain ft In:Most 'Passenger'

Title: Passenger
Artist: Mountain ft In:Most
Label: Soulvent Records
Release Date: Out now, you can buy it here

Our end-of-year summary wouldn't be complete without a dose of speaker-rocking drum 'n' bass, and who better to deliver the goods than Japanese artist, Mountain. Having released on landmark labels including Hospital, RAM, and Liquicity, he returned to London's Soulvent with an eponymous album this year. Lifted from the LP, 'Passenger' sees him join label regular In:Most to serve this effervescent, floor-filling roller. Leviathan snares power the groove as delicate synth arpeggios, shimmering chords and heavyweight bass combine to fist-pumping effect. Energetic, harmonically rich, and endowed with a crossover-primed shimmer, this is sparkling work from both players.

Patrizio Cavaliere is Mixmag Asia's Music Editor, follow him on Instagram

Next Page