PAN M 360’s Top 100 Albums of 2022 (Part 3)

· by Rédaction PAN M 360

With the pandemic seemingly winding down, there was a lot of music in 2022. We at PAN M 360 believe ourselves to not only be music reviewers and journalists, but music curators in this era where finding great sounds is much more complicated than ever. So ? Here is the third part of our Top 100 albums Part 3 of 4. You will notice that there is no rating in this list, no order of style, no hierarchy of sounds, even no alphabetical order. Why ? Because we sincerely think that music lovers do not need an hierarchical structure in our proposals and make up their own mind after trusting us. Hopefully you find some new great music to bring into the New Year… Happy Holidays !

Binker & Moses
Feeding The Machine (février)
Gearbox Records
Experimental, Ambient, Electronica
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Saxophonist Binker Goldings and drummer Moses Boyd are two pillars of the bubbling London jazz scene. For this dynamic duo, Feeding the Machine represents a step giant towards the future. Thanks to the electronic tweaks of comrade Max Luthert, the tandem propels his free jazz far into the cosmos, somewhere between the spiritual jazz of the sixties and the cutting-edge electro offered by the Warp label. (Steve Naud)

Tiken Jah Fakoly
Braquage de pouvoir
Reggae, Francophone
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Having become a pan-African political force in his own right over the course of his 30-year career, the charismatic 54-year-old singer once again returns, in French, English, Dioula and Bambara, to his favorite subjects, which are the call for the union of the peoples of Africa, as well as the denunciation of corruption, dictatorship and nepotism, notably in the title track of the album, the catchy Braquage de pouvoir. The recipe remains an excellent soundtrack of the political news, one sometimes has the impression that Tiken Jah remains in his comfort zone. (Claude André)

Renaissance (July)
Parkwood Entertainment
Disco, Pop, Contemporary R&B, Dance-pop
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A generous post-pandemic project featuring no less than 16 tracks, Renaissance applauds a certain return to normalcy, as its title suggests: the pleasure of gathering, dancing, sweating, kissing and more. The dance floor would be the place par excellence of this sensual normality recovered. Well beyond nusoul, hip-hop and trap, Beyoncé explores here house, EDM, techno, gospel, dancehall, reggaeton to Donna Summer’s disco and MJ’s pop. Except for jazz, the queen evokes here all the black contributions to the club culture. (Alain Brunet)

We Found This (October)
Noise, Shoegaze, Alternative
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This Toronto psychedelic noise quintet has a cultish personality to complement their dizzying and hallucinatory sound of fuzz, warbled reverb, and heavy walls of distortion. Their recent album, We Found This (Mothland)is like an invitation into a parallel universe, a cross between a Lynchian nightmare of optical illusions that stalk you or shaking hands with a cosmic entity that enjoys laughing at your confusion. (Stephan Boissonneault)

Florence + The Machine
Dance Fever (May)
Polydor Records
Pop rock, Baroque pop, Alternative
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Florence Welch exhumes on her fifth studio album the depths of her emotions through her thunderous and bewitching voice which characterizes her so well. Inspired by choreomania, a mass hysteria where people dance until they collapse, Dance Fever is the soundtrack to a dance party where people exuberantly express their hope for a better tomorrow. In order to free our inner demons. (Geneviève Gauthier )

Kee Avil
Crease (March)
Experimental, avant rock, drone
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Montreal guitarist Vicky Mettler put on her Kee Avil clothes, an enigmatic alias that the Constellation label welcomed with open arms. With good reason, by the way. Talented instrumentalist, author and composer for the least audacious, she emerges from the waves of the avant-rock and of these less and less experimental musics that we still call current in certain circles. Thus, this first album of Kee Avil has imposed itself this year on these sinuous tracks where the song takes other forms and melts into a culture at the crossroads of avant rock, avant folk, contemporary music, electroacoustic and “performance art.” That being said, Kee Avil’s apparent strangeness is a red herring; we are now familiar with most of her construction materials. Many secrets are still yet to come… (Alain Brunet)

Caterpillar (June)
Electronic, Techno
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Released last summer, this electro-techno trilogy was made public on the high-flying English label, VOAM, orchestrated by the fabulous Blawan. Here, Pariah, musical accomplice of the latter, under the pseudonym of Karenn, unveiled an eclectic, almost syncretic three tracks, if only to say how successful this opus is. “Caterpillar,” “Frogspawn” and “One on One” are in themselves a real metaphor. Indeed, Arthur Cayzer very often finds his inspiration in the themes of nature in order to draw the essence of our existence in his music. The sound of the looped synthesizer gives the impression of twisting, of rolling up on itself, like a caterpillar on a rural background. The second one would script a batrachian hatching on a carpet of water lilies dancing to the sound of an electronic chime, joyfully, Carribean style. The third element goes wild at 150BPM in a whirlwind of confidences with the machine via an electrifying dialogue. (Salima Bouaraour)

Cage (March)
Ambiances Magnétiques
Ambient, Experimental, Soundscapes
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One of the most interesting Montreal ensembles, which revisits “sure values” of the repertoire at through the prism of improvisation. Their very different interpretations of “Four 6” and “One 7” by John Cage, although the second is a variation of the first, are magnificent assemblies, sonorous, and very evocative. (Réjean Beaucage)

Musici de Montréal, Jean-Marie Zeitouni 
Richard Strauss : Metamorphosen | Arvo Pärt : Symphonie no 4 « Los Angeles (May)
ATMA Classique
Classical, Symphony

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It is with a program that brings together two important figures of the music of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries that the I Musici de Montréal Chamber Orchestra, conducted for the occasion by Jean-Louis Bélanger, will perform. The chamber orchestra I Musici de Montréal, conducted for the occasion by Jean- Marie Zeitouni, enters ATMA Classique. The study for 23 string instruments Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss with its shifting and elegiac harmonies is a wonderful complement to the the timbre of Arvo Pärt’s fourth symphony, whose three movements are imbued with a sense of timelessness and interiority crossed by exalted dramatic accents. (Alexandre Villemaire)

Medicine Singers
Medicine Singers (April)
Stone Tapes, Mothland
Experimental, Pow Wow, Psychedelic

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An invitation, the Medicine Singers’ connection to their ancestral music—the intense physical power of pow-wow drumming born of a chance meeting between the Algonquin powwow ensemble Eastern Medicine Singers and and New York-based Israeli filmmaker and guitarist Yonatan Gat creates a space for this centuries-old “vessel of knowledge, history and language” that must not die. (Louise Jaunet)

Columbia Records
Avant-garde, Experimental pop, Alternative, Reggaeton
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Rosalía made the news this year. And for the right reasons: 16 hours a day locked up in the studio for three years to offer this album Motomami. This word of slang, it is the retranscription of a freedom to be oneself, that is heard perfectly in this album. The freedom to let her Catalan voice express her origins by mixing it with all the influences: Coltrane, the reggaeton, while passing by Bowie. Rosalía fascinates, not only by her voice, but also by this potpourri of which she has the secret, and her way of intelligence to recall that as a woman, one can both convey and express the desire of the body, while seeking its credits. Rosalia does not apologize for being what she is, free and sweet at the same time, and of an infinite sexiness, with choices that cannot be taken back: singing a ballad on a speeded-up motorcycle sound, who could do that better than her? This album is frightening because of its weirdness and its talent to navigate from one style to the next. (Anne-Sophie Rasolo)

Gifted (March)
Promised Land Recordings
Reggae, Pop, R&B
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This first career album for Koffee, following the Rapture EP that won her the Grammy reggae award in 2021, could have been more reflective, darker. Where will we go-“When di quarantine ting done and everybody touch road?” Lockdown. But in the end, the 21-year-old singer and songwriter whose potential is often compared to that of Sean Paul in his early days, she sees the future with with confidence. Obviously, the proposition is ambitious, attempting to reach the urban market in general. But this relaxed approach and positive outlook are most compelling, despite the short 28 minutes of this first gift. (Richard Lafrance)

Kings Disease III (November )
Mass Appeal Records
Rap, Hip-hop
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The production and turntablism across each song is definitely
on point and fans of the boom bap are definitely treated on
KDIII. The most stand out moment of the project for me was the
song “Hood2Hood” due to it’s very 1980’s pop style beat, which seems to be all the rage in urban music lately. Another highlight, and the most important part about this album, is it’s positive messaging interwoven throughout each song. With Nas making it clear that his message is directed at old, teenage and young fans alike, he encourages listeners to get out in the world, dream big, make something of yourself, to never forget where you came from, and to go and get it. (CCJ Gabriel)

Tedeschi Trucks Band
I Am The Moon (September)
Fantasy Records
Rock, Blues, Country
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Bands, musicians, and artists that were unable to tour during the pandemic, spend their time doing any number of things. The Tedeschi Trucks Band, for their part, wrote and recorded this masterpiece. Released as 4 successive EPs, over the course of a year, and then finally compiled as this 25-song epic, concept record. Based on the work of a 12th Century Persian poet, I Am the Moon stretched the band creatively. But it also had all those wonderful elements that make TTB so great. Those soulful vocals, the slide guitar, the jamming interplay between the horns and drums, and guitars. (Thomas Moultrie)

Subterranea (March)
Post-punk, dance-punk, psych pop
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Sunglaciers, sophomore LP, Subterranea, is about the “under the skin” jail we as humans constantly trap ourselves in. As you tear away pieces, a network of dark emotions are found in the recesses of a person’s mind, and they can’t wait to escape on Subterranea. Sunglaciers find these feelings with grooving basslines, oscillating synth, speedful drumming, jangly guitars, and darkend vague lyrics. Perfect for the whole family. (Stephan Boissonneault)

Benjamin Biolay
Saint Clair
Romance Music, Universal
French Pop, synth-pop
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Less enveloping on the level of atmospheric spleen than La Superbe, Biolay nevertheless hits us right in the plexus thanks to this gift he has to create the most bewitching melodies. This is notably the case of the track Les Joues roses, which will certainly be a hit wherever people like to dance in French, and the very successful track Rends l’amour. The artist is a fan of The Strokes and The Fab Four and also a Ferré fan, and he retains the linguistic audacity of the latter, even going so far as to admit, by way of metaphor, that he “made a prostitute” in the song (Un) Ravel. That changes us from a certain generalized aseptization. (Claude André)

Makaya McCraven
In These Times (September)
International Anthem
Jazz, Nu-Jazz, Soul, Future Folk
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As with any Makaya album, the groove is the heartbeat around which his music takes life, and In These Times will have you moving in all the good ways.  The album title itself cleverly alludes to the various time signatures in which McCraven has composed these pieces, and he deserves special praise for making these odd-time signatures not feel so odd after all, lest we forget the man is a self-proclaimed ‘beat scientist’. (Varun Swarup)

Multitude (March)
Electronic, French
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After the release of his previous album followed by a formidable concert cycle, Stromae withdrew to his homeland, went through a long depressive episode, rebuilt himself, reproduced himself, and finally found a way to return to creation, where he had left it. The text tells the story of almost a decade of human evolution, a rich evolution willy-nilly. References of classical French song in its elegance and orchestral sobriety, string arrangements, choral singing, electro embellishments, extra-Western references in the borrowings from reggaeton, Cape Verdean morna, Martinique/Guadeloupean zouk, Chinese classical music, and so on… In short, all these conventional sounds serve the text, first and foremost. The voice of Stromae, it was said many times, has the grain of that of Jacques Brel. (Alain Brunet)

Mykki Blanco
Stay Close To Music (October)
Transgressive Records
Alternative, Indie
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On Stay Close to Music, the poet, rapper and LGBT activist addresses inspirational topics such as racism, feminism and queer pride such as racism, feminism and queer pride against a backdrop of hip-hop and funk. For this album, Mykki Blanco has surrounded herself with a surprising and talented variety of collaborators such as Anohni (Antony and the Johnsons), Michael Stipe (R.E.M) and Jónsi (Sigur Rós). (Geneviève Gauthier )

Jozef Van Wissem
Nosferatu. The Call Of The Deathbird (March)
Dark folk, Film Score, Horror
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Soundtrack of the famous German expressionist film of 1922. Taking him out of the coffin a century later is no small matter. Let’s hope that the light of dawn will be fatal again. (Louise Jaunet)

Florist (July)
Double Double Whammy
Indie Folk, Indie Pop
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An entry by the night and its warm waves of modular synth, then the evocation of a winter morning to the sounds of a folk guitar with a slow rhythm, it is with this that Florist begins its eponymous album. The electric guitar is also soft and warm, in a hushed atmosphere throughout this album carried by an intention of the quartet which wants to be meditative and and poetic. It is a slow and cosmic walk between silence and woods, an album a little more than folk and definitely anchored in an experimental state of mind. The best thing is to let yourself float and let yourself be touched by Emilie Sprague’s voice, here and there, to avoid weighing weighing down the subject. The arpeggio of guitar mixed with strings, brass and these mysterious electronic drops offers a vaporous whole, adequate to this fresh end of year. (Anne-Sophie Rasolo)

Timuçin Şahin’s Flow State
Funk Poems for Bird (November)
Panoramic Recordings
Jazz, funk
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If the most outstanding tributes to Charlie ”Bird” Parker formed a trilogy, we’d have, in order, Anthony Braxton’s Charlie Parker Project, Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls, and now Şahin’s Funk Poems for Bird. Şahin’s often restless guitar swirls excitedly over a nearly constant drum’n’bass/funky floor. Sean Rickman and Reggie Washington, two regulars on Steve Coleman’s M-Base, create an elastic rhythmic tapestry over which Smythe spouts abstract and spontaneous piano inflorescences. A perpetually quivering kaleidoscope is embodied as we are invited to be caught up in the ebb and flow of the thurifer’s discourse. (Frédéric Cardin)

The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta (September)
Clouds Hill
Progressive Rock, Latin, Psychedelic
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The first half of The Mars Volta’s self-titled album is more ballad-based, with Cedric’s lyrics reverberating in tracks like “Shore Story” and “Vigil,” taking inspiration from 80s pop ala David Bowie and even some modern hip hop and jazz. The second half, which I would say begins halfway through “Palm Full Of Crux,” get’s heavier, not just from a genre perspective, but personal. Again, while I have no idea what “No Case Gain,” is about, I feel I know more about Cedric’s personal life now. Though, it’s all subjective. If you’re an old hat with the obscure prog of The Mars Volta, I encourage you to approach this album with an open perspective free from comparison. Enjoy it for what it is, a multiplex piece of surrealist art. (Stephan Boissonneault)

Rokia Koné
Real World
Traditional Malian music, mandingo, electronic, afro-pop
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Typical of Mali and Mandingo Africa in general, known for her participation in the supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique, the power singer Rokia Koné generates exactly what she has learned to master perfectly, in full respect of tradition. One recognizes everything of her culture in this album, yet it is different from the other albums we know of most singers of the same West African culture. This recording was framed by renowned Irish producer Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, The Killers, etc.) and features layers of sound that only big league producers can add. Thus, synths and extra bass are invited, the result is convincing to say the least. Both local and international, this African album will have marked 2022. (Alain Brunet)

Becca Stevens I Attaca Quartet
Becca Stevens I Attaca Quartet
Groundup Music, Coreport
Chamber Music, Singer-songwriter, Jazz
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Becca Stevens has many creative musician friends: Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Jacob Collier, David Crosby (she is a member of his band Lighthouse), Laura Mvula, Gretchen Parlato, among others. Initially a folk singer and songwriter with a penchant for complexity,
she quickly branched out into other avenues: pop, jazz, Arabic music and sometimes all of the above at once. She multiplies her collaborations endlessly. Among her creative friends is Nathan Schram, leader of the Attacca Quartet, who is now her partner. So why not a family album? That’s what was done this year: a retelling of several songs from Becca Stevens’ 8 albums, this album of 14 pieces dazzled me. Rightness of the voice, beauty of the arrangements, changes of rhythm. It is demanding. But when you enter this universe you feel great. (Michel Labrecque)

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