The Top 22 of 2022

by coldwarnightlife

This was the year of the music book. Instead of running the pop charts, many legendary figures migrated to the bestseller lists with their memoirs. Dr Martyn Ware provided his version of the Human League 1.0 in Electronically Yours. Trevor Horn offered some insights into his career in Adventures in Modern Recording. John McGeogh wasn’t here to write his own story, so Rory Sullivan-Burke took it on in The Light Pours Out of Me. Richard Evans’ Listening to the Music the Machines Make told the story of electronic music through the pages of the British music press. For Depeche Mode fans, the Halo book, revisiting the recording of Violator, was possibly more interesting than a press conference to announce a forthcoming album in the spirit of, well, Spirit.

Depeche Mode lost Andy Fletcher this year, reducing their original formation to two. Another casualty of 2022 was their former associate, Robert Marlow, who died without having achieved the broader recognition many thought he deserved. Nick Cave lost a second son, in an almost unimaginable tragedy. Hawkwind’s Nik Turner had lived a fuller life, but he couldn’t evade inclusion on a death roster that included Keith Levene, Klaus Schulze, Manuel Göttsching, Jet Black, and Vangelis. Front 242’s Jean-Luc De Meyer almost joined them, after running into heart problems. Andy Ross of Food Records wasn’t as lucky. There were constant reminders to show appreciation for artists while they are still alive.

There were plenty of opportunities to do so, as live shows were crammed into the calendar. The post-lockdown rush to get back on the road saw tours by many artists. Front 242 were up-and-at-them, as soon as the cardiologists were done, with a storming show. Rein took Manhattan (and a number of other US cities) as support for Front Line Assembly and other big name acts. Even the Electronic Summer festival returned en gång till, introducing Sierra and Piston Damp to a Swedish audience. Dave Baker’s Lonelyklown project had its stage debut. Minuit Machine valiantly returned to live performance after Helene de Thoury experienced significant inner-ear problems, but by year end de Thoury had to withdraw from live work. Kitka went to the Legion in Calgary for fries and draft beer. Test Dept beat the retreat with shows in Europe and the UK.

Mind you, some artists raised eyebrows. Patsy Kensit thought it was appropriate to snap the coffin at Fletch’s funeral and post to her IG account. We disagreed. Kanye West went full Yitler. Those lads from Right Said Fred continued to promote far right conspiracy theories. Just because you can sing doesn’t mean that everything that comes out of your mouth is golden.

Where the year fell short was in the number of quality new releases from established artists. Simple Minds, Dubstar, Leftfield, The House of Love, Wire, and William Orbit had new material on offer, but the release schedule was impacted by a combination of tour commitments, production backlogs, and record company apathy. When music is all about TikTok background sounds and  streaming service statistics, a band could get lost. Add to that the economic pressures on artists who struggle to make even a basic living, while the LiveNation monopoly sucks all the oxygen from growing scenes. It’s all about dynamic ticket pricing and pre-saves on Spotify: at the end of 2022, the crisis in music is in full swing.


22. Sierra – See Me Now EP

Kicking off our list is Sierra from France. The solo artist has been making highly sought after releases for several years, but — hands in the air — we didn’t have her on the radar until the Electronic Summer festival in Gothenburg. That is an error we are happy to correct, because her music fuses the old school sounds of Vangelis and Jarre with the hardness of the dark wave set. After the insufferable flotsam of most synthwave, this is what we hoped for from the next generation of electronic musicians. It delivers in spades.


21. Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder – Life Everywhere

Released into the political crisis caused by the Russo-Ukrainian war, Life Everywhere was a timely release by Chosnau and Reeder. Built around a fear of government control, the tracks embed hidden caches of New Order and Human League, while making Orwell danceable.


20. Blancmange – Private View

Neil Arthur is one of the epic showmen of British entertainment. Unfortunately, due to serious health concerns, he has had to continue Blancmange without Stephen Luscombe; but he has bolted his songs to Benge’s electronics without losing his step. Private View proves that aging is no reason to give up making strong material or switching to blues-rock stylings.


19. Mark Stewart – VS

The Pop Group giant has never been the shy one. Here, he storms the heavens with industrial dub and other delights delivered by the likes of Front 242, Leaether Strip, Stephen Mallinder, and Eric Random. Stewart’s got a bone to pick with the universe, and he isn’t letting it rest until he gets a result. That makes us hopeful for more of this in the future.


18. Francesca e Luigi – Dirty Disco

The Swedes are going to dominate this year’s list — prepare yourself now. This track is one of the reasons: they are congenitally unafraid to play with disco, Italo, and other stylings that might be dismissed as cheese by others. Choose fun!


17. William Orbit – The Painter

The return of William Orbit, after some health challenges, was welcome news. The Painter found him collaborating with a range of vocalists — from Beth Orton to Polly Scattergood — while playing with the spacial capabilities of Dolby Atmos. Orbit’s bag of tricks is always full of bubbling delays, and this set of tracks was loaded with them. It is an exercise in recovery, rather than dancefloor beats, and no less beautiful for it.


16. Kitka – House of K

From the north of Sweden came House of K by Kitka, which married pop, synthwave and trap stylings to good effect. It’s not your father’s electronic music, but it is exactly the kind of creative work that needs to keep coming.


15. Karin Park – Private Collection

Page could have reissued Glad and been happy with the enthusiastic response, but Eddie Bengtsson has some of that 1970s UV spirit in him. “Vi kommer tillbaka” [EN: “We Are Coming Back”] arrived as a single just as the year was running out, easily outpacing the competition with a slice of golden poptronica.

Karin Park returned this year with an album reimagining some of her previous compositions. Reaching back across two decades, the songs retooled on Private Collection were her own favourites; but they included many of ours, as well. Motherhood and time in the deep woods have had their effects on how Park hears her work, and we found the songs stood up well to a stripped-down, raw, and unapologetic approach.


14. The Ändå – Update & Reboot

The Ändå were back this year with this track that breaks down several boundaries. We have to wait until next year for the Twice a Man compilation, but Karl Gasleben and his collaborators in this project know how to keep the theatrical flame nurtured by the band alive. Is it silly? Is it serious? You would never ask that of Laurie Anderson, would you?


13. Fifi Rong – There Is a Funeral in My Heart for Every Man I Ever Loved

Fifi Rong went heavily into NFTs, using the emergent technology to share her music with fans. The Crypto Winter has possibility dampened the market for trading in tokens, but her current double album (one part English and one part Chinese) is also on CD. In any format, the songs on There Is a Funeral… are creative treats. The Yello collaborator has taken the indie route further than most, but her album deserves to reach the mainstream.


12. Waterflower – Mycelium (Step by Step)

Waterflower’s work incorporates plant-life, which conduct electricity in ways that can be processed. The signals generated by mushrooms are measured, timed, and turned into music that accompanies the vocals of Sabine Moore. This might sound like just a Tesco Disco, but the material is rich and enveloping — like the forest itself.


11. Front 242 – Rewind

Front 242 put on what was arguably the Concert of the Year in London, despite Jean-Luc de Meyer’s recent health scare. They weren’t touring a new record, but their countrymen at Alfa Matrix released a set of remixes this year, with Terence Fixmer, The Hacker, Kant Kino, and Radical G taking turns to play with some classic tracks. Rewind was originally planned for release last year, to mark the 20th anniversary of the label and the 40th anniversary of the band, but Covid did its thing.


10. Strikkland – Bodypop

Sweden’s love of EBM is well known, and the fact that new bands keep emerging to fan the musical flame is encouraging. Representing the west coast, Strikkland have finally issued their first album, and it is a stormer. Mixing body music and pop, the duo have made the most of their inheritance.


9. Emmon – RECON

Another Swedish act that has embraced the pop-body combination is Emmon. Previously known for seriously danceable pop, they have shifted direction to embrace all of the sounds from Emma Nylén’s DJ days. That means a bit of Goldfrapp, a dose of Depeche Mode, a shake of Nitzer Ebb, and a pinch of Front 242, blended until smooth. Representing the east coast, they have retained the sophistication and sexiness of their earlier work while turning up the body element of the mix.


8. Lederman – Rohn – Rage

This collaboration between Jean-Marc Lederman (Fad Gadget, The Weathermen, Kid Montana) and Emileigh Rohn (Chiasm) quickly punched its way up the alternative charts with an aggressive, menacing sound. It is a long way from some of Lederman’s more pastoral output, but the composer covers a lot of ground. Just the thing for a new Matrix movie, don’t you think?


7. Lau Nau – Puutarhassa

The promotional material explains this album better than we can:

“In the summer 2020 Lau Nau did a video performance Live in the Orchard for the Munich based concert series frameless. She built a little transportable wagon that fits a modular synth, a miniature recording studio and a sound system, and created a concept for the performance where she made field recordings in the garden while playing the synth. This record includes two straight takes from the live performance, remixed with other material Lau Nau recorded in the same vein in the same place, a tiny village on an island in the Western coast of Finland.”

What we can add is that this is exactly the kind of experimentation that Lau Nau does like no other. While Virginia Astley bottled the essence of British summers in From Gardens Where We Feel Secure, Lau Nau’s approach is less constricted by cultural expectations. Where Astley supplied familiarity, Lau Nau delivers surprises based upon observation and engagement. Call it quaint but never twee. A band should be named after this, called And Also the Bees.


6. Lonelyklown – Funny Sunday Morning

Together with Simon Leonard, Dave Baker is responsible for some of the best love songs ever made–even when they are about satellites and walks through Muswell Hill. There is only one track on this album written with Leonard, but the plaintive vocals and catchy melodies show direct descent from the ouevre of I Start Counting, Fortran 5 and Komputer. The twist is that it is impressed with a classic 70s vibe and more songs about things feline than The Stranglers ever managed.


5. Minuit Machine – 24

Minuit Machine are one of the top acts in the dark wave scene for a reason. Their ability to weave together haunting vocals and catchy electronics breathes humanity into the machines in ways that few other scene acts accomplish. Sadly, news came at the end of the year that Hélène de Thoury’s health would prevent her from touring in the future.


4. Amusi – EP-A

A combination of Joakim Montelius (Covenant), Khyber Westlund, Richard Hansson, and Ulrika Mild (Computer), Amusi are an alternative Swedish supergroup. Don’t confuse them with the Travelling Wilburys.



The original release of Page’s third album has been out of print for many years. Issued in 1995, on CD only, it has changed hands between collectors for full price ever since. Now issued for the first time on vinyl, Glad is a classic of Swedish pop. Marina Schiptjenko and Eddie Bengtsson stopped working together after this album, while the former concentrated on an ultrapop career and the latter explored guitar sounds, but their all-synth reunion has brought new life to these songs.


2. Dubstar – Two ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Since they reorganised as a duo, Dubstar have become more sophisticated and thoughtful. The release of Two gathered up some singles, including “Hygiene Strip,”  and some new material crafted with producer Stephen Hague (New Order, Pet Shop Boys). The latter made it out to Dubstar’s release event at Rough Trade East, where Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie performed some of the songs for an entranced audience. Blackwood’s vocals are as strong as ever, while Wilkie’s guitar work is accomplished and confident. You would have to be to have been through the Machine and come out the other side with an album that is essentially faultless.


1. Page – Vi kommer tillbaka SINGLE OF THE YEAR

When John Foxx left Ultravox!, they lost more than their punctuation mark. Foxx’s presence gave the band bite. Midge Ure made excellent, soaring pop but left no teeth marks–well, apart from the time he kicked Warren Cann out of the band he had founded. Musically, at least, there is something to be said for having an edge.

Page could have reissued Glad and been happy with the enthusiastic response, but Eddie Bengtsson has some of that 1970s UV spirit in him. “Vi kommer tillbaka” [EN: “We Are Coming Back”] arrived as a single just as the year was running out, easily outpacing the competition with a slice of golden poptronica.


Copyrighted image. Enjoy it on our site!