As we spin the final grooves of 2022, JME Contributors are recapping their favorite music of the year.
In 2002, the music world, like the overall planet, continued to dust off the feared-eschatological wipeout of the Covid pandemic. For millions, collective trauma and survivors’ relief were parlayed into music consumption. Bandcamp Friday continued to make the rest of the week easier, covert file-drops remain the ultimate venial and collective-blind-eyed sin of music swapping, and both mega-and-indie labels continued to “act is if” there was a viable paying audience to buy new releases and a bevy of both new and unreleased (or re-packaged) archival recordings. Considering an estimated $1.4 billion dollars in sales for digital downloads alone, that industry is alive and well.
This was also the year when my music-buying was primarily based on digital downloads. Other than a few used-LP purchases via online vendors or new vinyl releases from generous musician friends, the bulk of my music was purchased through iTunes or Bandcamp. I lost my mind at one point doubling down on cheaply priced Finnish black metal, a derangement which I balanced out by snapping up live albums by jazz and ‘60s rock heavyweights.
On the local tip, I continued to enjoy thrash-metal greats Rhythm of Fear, and was pleased to discover an official (albeit truncated) release of (Riverside’s mystical ancestors) the Allman Brothers Band’s much-and-rightfully bootlegged 1971 performance from the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh.
I remained impressed by the evolution and ongoing work of ‘90s underground rock freaks, freaking into middle age (Gray/Smith, Theoxenia, Valley of Weights. Wolf Eyes, Sunburned Hand of the Man); scads of primo jazz (Matthew Shipp Trio, Sun-Mi Hong); brutal metal (Altars, Esoctrilihum); and the continual rise of contemporary drone music courtesy of truly unpredictable, younger artists (Anna von Hausswolff, Kali Malone, Sara Parkman and Maria W Horn).
Here’s my top 20:
Syria Mosque: Pittsburgh, PA January 17, 1971, The Allman Brothers Band
Ascetic Reflection, Altars
- Stream Ascetic Reflection
Revelations – The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings, Albert Ayler
- Stream Revelations
Peel Sessions (1992), Come
- Stream Peel Sessions
Consecration of the Spiritüs Flesh, Esoctrilihum
Lyceum Theatre (1972 live releases), Grateful Dead
- Stream Gray/Smith
Live At Montreux Jazz Festival, Anna von Hausswolff
Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969, Jimi Hendrix Experience
Third Page: Resonance, Sun-Mi Hong
- Stream Third Page: Resonance
Revival: Live at Pookie’s Pub (1967), Elvin Jones
Living Torch, Kali Malone
- Stream Living Torch
Funeral Folk, Sara Parkman and Maria W Horn
- Stream Funeral Folk
Fatal Horizons, Rhythm of Fear
- Stream Fatal Horizons
World Construct, Matthew Shipp Trio
- Stream World Construct
Some Cream, Some Heat, Sunburned Hand of the Man
- Stream Some Cream, Some Heat
Universe in Blue, Sun Ra & His Blue Universe Arkestra
- Stream Universe in Blue
(Adventures in) Stasis, Theoxenia
- Stream (Adventures in) Stasis
Valley of Weights, Valley of Weights
- Stream Valley of Weights
Dumpsters & Attitude, Wolf Eyes
- Stream Dumpsters & Attitude