• Ideas
  • Dec 19, 2022

Six Albums We Dissociated On Our Bedroom Floors to in 2022

Image by Peter Chung for ArtAsiaPacific.

With its downward spirals and steep inclines, 2022 has been at once isolating and liberating, fast and slow. Here are six albums that helped our editors get through the uncertainties and changes brought by this past year.

Renaissance by Beyoncé

Summertime sadness morphed into summertime hotness when Beyoncé graced us on July 29. Following 2022’s first six months fraught with isolation, uncertainty, and frustration, Renaissance was a welcome celebration—of Queerness, of Blackness, of unapologetic and unbridled expression of the self, and of each other. 


Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain

The fate of Ethel Cain, the titular preacher’s daughter, unravels in God’s country of interstate gas stations, fire-and-brimstone televangelists, and beat-up bars. The concept album by Tallahassee native Hayden Anhedönia, perhaps a reference to Loretta Lynn’s seminal country album Coal Miner’s Daughter (1971) on Southern womanhood, eschews expectations with its violent ending. The album has a two-track climax with “Ptolemaea,” a reference to Dante’s Inferno, foreshadowing that to come in the six minute and 23 second song, and “August Underground” a reference to a 2001 exploitation horror film of the same name.


Dirt Femme by Tove Lo

The album is serving club banger after banger, while the lyrics are honest yet relatable, giving a sensational 39-minute listening experience.


The Awakening by Ahmad Jamal Trio

Before from the watermelon-sweet tunes of Harry Styles promised warm-weather escapism, this 1970 jazz album made for a great companion during excessive periods of time at home during the chilly months both early and late in the year when Omicron was sweeping the city. Ahmad Jamal then might lead to Yusef Lateef and Bobby Timmons, and, hey, it’s not so bad staying indoors.


Living Torch by Kali Malone

A pipe organ ferry us through an infernal darkness. Malone’s modular synth towers above misty trombone and bass clarinet, its spires rigorously constructed by just intonation. The augury inspires reverence and surrender.


by Novel Fergus

From A Better Tomorrow (1986) to Infernal Affairs (2002), Hong Kong is often fantasized for its gangster culture. But for years, few musicians dared to touch on this violent but vigorous grassroots image—a narrative that is alternative to the official glory of “Asia’s finest.” So when one clicks on the latest track by Novel Fergus—who is dubbed “Hip Hop Poet” by netizens and known for his mix of Cantonese rap and trap music—one couldn’t help but yell out the beat they recognize from Johnnie To’s 2005 gangster film Election, originally written by Tayu Lo.

Sampling after the background music in the legendary film, plus producer Dai Shin’s genius mix of Cantonese opera, the featured track “江湖” is a vivid depiction of the underdog life with portrayals of prisoners, taxi drivers, boatmen, prostitutes, and drug dealers. A first for Cantonese gangster rap, the track studies the local lingua shared only by those who have experienced the shadow side of the city, rich with vocabulary heard in jail or other underground scene. 

The other tracks in the album continue on this exploration but join forces with other rappers such as ZAIN and M4 (the other hip hop studio that has become popular in 2022), discussing themes such as bullying and abuse of power in policing. Produced by Yack Studio, the album comes in a Chinese red envelope and evokes the tradition of submitting a red envelope containing “three sixes” to the gang as a show of loyalty, symbolizing Fergus’s determination of dedicating himself wholly to music. 


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