By Mike King
As someone who’s helplessly reliant on wordless playlists during the workweek, I gotta give the wordless proprietors props for building a community that delivers on my musical hankerings. And seeing that this is undecidedly the year of AI, I also gotta give credit to the Spotify recommendation and discover weekly algorithms. Hats off to whoever is behind this auditory wizardry because it surely knows how to scratch my bespoke itch of lofi beats, modern jazz, indie electronic and the heterogeneous genres that like DJ and Greg have noted, belong in some sort of fluid spectrum of instrumental, electronic, jazz and experimental.
In fact, I can give big thanks to both the wordless community and the algorithm for putting together the bulk of my 2022 playlist. It’s the algorithm that introduced me to Richard Houghten, the guy whose knack for perfectly mixing beautiful guitar and the right toe-tapping beats keeps me productive through the day. Speaking of guitar, you’ll also find a few instrumentals from young guitar phenom Mansur Brown, the incredibly versatile Bibio and the lovely tones from Brian Green.
The algorithm also led me to artists like Thrupence, Teebs, Junior State and standout songs like the ethereal “Liquid Summer” from the short-lived Diamond Messages project. You’ll find a few jazz-meets-electronic favorites from Pool Cosby’s excellent jazzy, hip-hoppy, experimental 2017 debut album Blind Gold and jammy-electronic funk cuts from Lettuce.
The playlist continues with the feel-good jams of multi-instrumentalist Delicate Steve, the perfectly crafted beats of Tom Misch and the creative instrumentation of FKJ and Khruangbin which are the result of algorithm recommendations, wordless community picks and the migration of wordless songs from other playlists I’ve curated to here.
The lush beats from UTAH were a top find this decade whose Long Play project is 30 minutes of pure wordless productivity enhancement. Another highlight was the Ethiopian composer-pianist-nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou whose song “Homesickness, Pt. 2” just might be one of my favorite jazz songs of all time. I can recommend any song in her Éthiopiques collection and encourage everyone reading this to also read about her extraordinary life.
I also discovered one thing the algorithm has not yet mastered: my throwback world of wordless music. 2022 kept my headphones and speaker systems pumping with nostalgic college-era jams as well as various aughts and 2010s rediscoveries from outfits like Prefuse 73, Boards of Canada, Broken Social Scene, Clams Casino and Washed Out. I explored deep cuts by the likes of French wordless pioneers Air and M83 as well as a smattering of sundries from wordless GOATs Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Brian Eno. I also rediscovered the creative and beautiful music of Blue Sky Black Death, one of my favorite wordless artists ever.
Shout to everyone who’s contributed their eclectic tastes to the collaborative playlist and DJ and Greg for keeping this project moving from one year to the next. ‘23 might be the year of Michael Jordan but I’m thinking it’s also the year of wordless.
(Note: If you've got your own favorite wordless music, share it with us by dropping it on our open and public Collaborative Playlist. And if you want to create a Collaborator Mix and write a blog about how much you love it, send us a note! info[at]wordlesscollective[dot]com.)