Allow me to preface that I am not one to do ‘favorite’ or ‘end of year’ best of’ lists, mainly because my list would be never-ending, and I don’t like ranking things, especially when it comes to music, an artist’s most personal and vulnerable representation of their self. What I have prepared is a set of arrangements that I found myself playing on constant repeat. The one caveat I intentionally set was that I didn’t include releases on PITP or our sister labels. That’s comparable to wearing your own band t-shirt to your own live performance, ya dig? The setlist I’ve prepared includes eleven songs I couldn’t stop listening to throughout 2022.
Chihei Hatakeyama’ Nighsky’
Chihei’s work never fails to amaze me. I have celebrated his catalog for years now, and ‘Nightsky’ falls within the perimeters of what he does best. Incredibly lush, patient soundscapes. This song is part of the benefit compilation released by Hidden Vibes titled, ‘Colors.’
Aural Imbalance’ Cassiopeia’s Dream’
Aural Imbalance is an absolute gem in the atmospheric dnb department. Simon and I have become close friends this past year, talking to each other practically on a daily basis. He has perfected his craft, and everything he puts out is absolutely breathtaking. Deep bass and layers of non-intrusive synth work are the perfect ingredients for my eardrums. ‘Cassiopeia’s Dream’ was released on Auxiliary’s incredible Spatial series titled, ‘Utopian Society, Volume Two.’
Billow Observatory ‘Osae’
I’ve been an avid fan of Billow Observatory since day one. It still blows me away that Jonas has released several works of mine on his incredible Azure Vista imprint. Definitely a bucket list checked off. ‘Osae’ drifts into uncharted territories when considering their back catalog of ethereal, guitar-driven ambience… and I absolutely love it. Emotive, with more structured movements, that includes an ending that sounds like it came straight from heaven. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
My lord. The bass. Warmth will never disappoint in my books. ‘Still’ gently moves with layers upon layers of incredibly gorgeous synth work with subtle piano notes that ebb and flow throughout the arrangement. Pure bliss and painfully beautiful.
What can I say to describe the monumental works of ASC? Sometimes it is hard to describe how music can affect me. This is one of those scenarios. James and I have become incredibly close this year, both musically and personally. Honored to call him my brother. ‘Reassurance’ instantly pulls the heartstrings. While the piano is at the forefront of this track, the subtle, airy sounds that gently swirl in the background make this piece as close to perfection as possible. Gentle layers of sound complement the main piano part, which is astonishing and awe-inspiring. A breathtaking arrangement that demands your full attention. Absolutely magnificent.
Ludvig Cimbrelius ‘Ingenting Saknas’
Inspiring. Awe and Wonder. These are the elements Ludvig brings to the table every. single. time… Everything this gentleman creates is elegant, deep, and saturated with love. This track takes me to a place where I see the world around me more clearly and removes the ugliness that has saturated our society. Incredible arrangement, constant repeat.
Viul & Benoît Pioulard ‘Stair’
One of the best artist collaborations in 2022, these two wondrous lads created something that will be a testament of ambient music for generations to come. ‘Stair,’ I hope to think, is a polysemy to ascension. Taking stairs up to a beautiful unknown. This is the feeling I get when listening to this track. Gently rising to a hidden place that is joyous, wonderful, and beautiful. An indescribable depth of clarity is realized with this arrangement.
William Basinski & Janek Schaefer ‘…on reflection (four)’
Another artist collaboration of 2022 that couldn’t be more perfect with Basinski and Schaefer pairing up with an ineffable, heavenly long-player titled ‘…on reflection’. Some things are meant to happen, and this is an example of perfect orchestration. Every note. Every field recorded sound. Everything is perfect on this track. Beautiful, delicate in its delivery, soothing in its conveyance.
Christina Giannone ‘Forever’
Christina never fails to completely stop me in my tracks with astonishment. Her incredible ability to create a visual landscape in the mind with her aural, shapeshifting drones is flawless and impeccable to me. ‘Forever’ may be short in duration, yet the impact of this arrangement is profound and everlasting. Giannone is the undisputed Drone Queen. Recognize!
It goes without saying how much of an impact Dennis has had in my life, personally and musically. There’s not a more fitting track name than ‘Family.’ He is truly my ambient brother. ‘Family’ is yet another example of the incredible craftsmanship of the sounds of 36. Beautifully orchestrated and remarkably brilliant.
bvdub ‘Hold On Tight’
Brock released an impressive amount of music in 2022. The thing is, every single album, track, remix, and collaboration is pure excellence. Bvdub exemplifies patience and is a master at slowly unfolding beauty, allowing every emphasis and phonic movement to showcase its purpose. His ability to capture your full attention, especially with his long forms, is a true achievement, a testament that many cannot accomplish. ‘Hold on Tight’ is vexing and hypnotic in its delivery, while the complexities of the arrangement reveal something new each time it’s revisited. PS. Love you, Brock; you know you’re my ace and homie. Ambientpunx unite!