tue 27/02/2024

Album of the Year 2022: Hercules & Love Affair - In Amber | reviews, news & interviews

Album of the Year 2022: Hercules & Love Affair - In Amber

Album of the Year 2022: Hercules & Love Affair - In Amber

Dark music for dark times as the dance collective make a goth-powered comeback

It’s been a shit year. Global horrors from Kiev to Karachi and Tehran to Texas all somehow feeling too close for comfort, and even closer to home heatstroke, frostbite, floods, strikes, impoverishment, the grinding realisation that pestilence is a long term way of life now…

I’ve never been so glad of the extreme privilege of just being able to keep my head above water, but even given that there’s been misery, grief, regret and a whole heap of grinding tedium. Which in turn means I’ve never – and I mean this most vividly: NEVER – been so glad to have music and the rich culture and subculture that surrounds it.  

Sometimes that’s been about fighting the misery. There’s been a huge amount of glorious house music this year, for example, from the underground of Manchester and Pretoria, from the biggest pop stars and the most established producers, all of which gave strength, hope and a sense of solidarity. There’s been soul, jazz, rap and so much more that bubbled with community and newness and kept me afloat day to day. But sometimes it was also good to face the darkness head on, and that’s where records like Boris’s mind-bending W, an incredibly trio of albums from Kevin Richard Martin, and Hercules & Love Affair’s comeback came in. 

In Amber is a record about alienation, dislocation, mistrust, violent homophobia, abuse, religious terror, war, genocide, mental breakdown. And yet its hybrid of brooding house with classic goth drama – and I mean classic goth, after all it even features Siouxie & The Banshees drummer Budgie – is so potent, so unflinching in its abyss-gazing, so determined to make another step forward even when things are at their worst, that it’s paradoxically stirring. The gloomy tones of H&LA leader Andy Butler counterpointed by high drama from ANHONI and an etherial Elín Ey make them sound like stern avenging angels. There is redemption here, but it comes with admission that the worst things can’t be undone. It’s complicated, it’s horrible, it’s gorgeous: it’s a masterpiece of dark music for dark times.

Two more essential albums from 2022:

Boris – W

Kevin Richard Martin – Nightcrawler 

Musical experience of the year: 

Without question it was dancing to Boko! Boko! late at night on a strobelit Norwegian dancefloor at Oslo World festival. This too was super dark, often fearsomely so, dance music – raw with the bass of grime and South African gqom rhythms – but it was also rowdy, bawdy, funny and triumphant in its plurality. It was an absolute rebirth of rave for a mashed-up, culturally multipolar planet. 

Track of the year: 

Tyla – To Last

It's about alienation, dislocation, mistrust, violent homophobia, abuse, religious terror, war, genocide, mental breakdown

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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