Oneohtrix Point Never produces the Weeknd, A.G. Cook links up with Beyoncé, and Rosalía, well, sounds like Rosalía. Pop music sizzles with electronic noise, R&B holds the most wave-making avant-garde around, and contemporary rap music stretches rhythm like a putty no longer anchored to a pocket. All of which begs the question, “What exactly counts as Experimental Music in 2022?” The answer is, of course, “Who cares, the world is on fire, no one reads introductions to music lists, please just shut the fuck up and tell me about some good drone albums.”
If you are a fan of traditionally “out” music — modern composition, free improvisation, musique concrète, noise, minimalism, sound art — 2022 was as good a year as any. Improv artists like Bill Orcutt, Patrick Shiroshi, Sheng Jie, the art-metal band Sumac, and the roster of the Astral Spirits tape label, seemed to lead a muscular new charge of free music. Kali Malone and Sarah Davachi made wildly popular cases for patient drones. Claire Rosay and Vanessa Rosetto exploded the world of collage into places — respectively — more insular and more widescreen.
This list is not an attempt to collate these narratives into a neat summary. Instead, it’s a chaotic, personal selection of chaotic and personal music.