Innovative

Aphex Twin – …I Care Because You Do

Style: Braindance / IDM, Acid Techno

Vibe: Anxious, Ominous, Romantic, Aggressive, Playful, Bittersweet, Surreal, Mechanical

Musical Qualities: Polyrhythmic, Melodic, Instrumental, Noisy, Repetitive

Instrumentation: Drum Machine, Synthesizers, Organ, Sampling, Drums, Percussion

Jackie-O Motherfucker – Fig 5.

Style: Mystical Americana, Free Folk, Post-Rock, Drone

Vibe: Haunting, Meandering, Rootsy, Rustic, Nocturnal, Mysterious, Deconstructed, Ragged, Communal, Murky, Abstract, Lethargic, Hallucinogenic, Raw

Musical Qualities: Collective Improvisation, Instrumental (except B1,C1), Loose, Lo-fi, Dynamic, Droney, Noisy, Group Vocals (B1), Harmonies (B1, C1)

Spirit of the Beehive – Entertainment, Death

Style: Noise Pop, Glitch Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Hyper Dream Pop, Shoegaze

Vibe: Disorienting, Woozy, Messy, Dreamy, Futuristic, Chaotic, Surreal, Dystopian, Cryptic, Alienation, Bittersweet, Colorful, Energetic, Washy, Urban,

Musical Qualities: Noisy, Dense, Catchy, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Vocal Manipulation, Suite, Melodic, Progressive

Horace Tapscott & the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra – The Call

Style: Avant-Garde Big Band, Spiritual Jazz, Vocal Jazz (A2)

Vibe: Spiritual, Communal, Epic, Passionate, Active Listening, Energetic, Religious, Triumphant

Musical Qualities: Polyphonic, Complex, Dense, Acoustic, Thematic, Improvisation, Melodic, Technical, Orchestral

Fly Pan Am – Sédatifs en fréquences et sillons

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock, Tape Music, Drone

Vibe: Deconstructed, Hypnotic, Meandering, Stark, Motorik, Abstract, Urban

Musical Qualities: Instrumental, Pulse, Loops, Minimalistic, Repetitive, Drone, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Field Recordings, Noise

Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise

Style: Progressive Electronic, Ambient House, Collage Pop, Sound Sculpture

Moods: Cryptic, Surreal, Aquatic, Hypnotic, Nocturnal, Futuristic, Melancholy, Collage, Urban, Mellow, Meditative, Ethereal, Eclectic, Rainy, Romantic

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Field Recordings, Atmospheric, Melodic, Loops

fAust vs. Dälek – Derbe Respect, Alder

Style: Industrial Hip-Hop, Experimental, Krautrock

Vibe: Gritty, Dystopian, Mechanical, Political, Heavy, Cold, Dark, Conscious

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Noisy, Rhythmic, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Tangerine Dream – Electronic Meditation

Style: Space Rock, Free Rock, Kosmische Musik

Vibe: Primordial, Mysterious, Exploratory, Cold, Desolate, Cosmic, Suspenseful, Meandering, Abstract, Amorphous, Cinematic, Psychedelic, Murky

Musical Qualities: Atmospheric, Improvisation, Instrumental, Dissonant, Noisy, Raw, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

Style: Krautrock, Electro-Pop, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Motorik, Mechanical, Anthemic, Futuristic, Sleek, Urban, Warm, Hypnotic, Driving, Bright

Musical Attributes: Melodic, Repetitive, Progressive, Catchy, Polished, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Wendy Eisenberg – Auto

Style: Progressive-Pop, Avant-Songwriter, Jazz-Rock, Math-Pop

Vibe: Whispery, Angular, Intimate, Heartfelt, Cerebral, Reflective, Love / Breakup, Restrained, Introspective, Contemplative, Anxious, Loner

Musical Qualities: Odd Time Signatures, Jazz-Influenced, Technical, Dynamic, Lyrical

Sélène Saint-Aimé – Mare Undarum

Style: Avant Chamber-Jazz, Vocal Spiritual Jazz

Vibe: Ritualistic, Poetic, Complex, Hypnotic, Nocturnal, Passionate, Mellow

Musical Attributes: Progressive, Thematic Improvisation, Rhythmic, Chamber, Percussive

Gastr Del Sol – Camofleur

Style: Post-Rock, Avant-Rock, Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Chamber-Folk

Vibe: Cryptic, Warm, Cerebral, Spring, Exploratory, Eclectic, Melancholy

Musical Attributes: Odd Time Signatures, Progressive Structures, Melodic

Horse Lords – The Common Task

The Common Task is an incessant barrage of jolting polyrhythms that simultaneously hypnotize and disorient.

Style: Experimental Rock, Math Rock, Post-Rock, Totalism
Vibe: Hypnotic, Surreal, Triumphant, Complex, Political
Musical Attributes: Microtonal, Polyrhythmic, Repetitive, Odd Time Signatures, Saharan Africa-Influenced, Technical, Instrumental

Tarentel – We Move Through Weather

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock?Vibe: Exploratory, Hypnotic, Meandering, Murky, Mysterious, Nature, Abstract, Aquatic, Driving, Droney, Psychedelic?Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Repetitive, Atmospheric, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Loops, Innovative, Dynamic

The Books – Lost and Safe

Style: Collage-Pop, Glitch-Folk, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Surreal, Psychedelic, Peaceful, Cerebral, Meditative,  Philosophical, Spiritual, Uplifting, Warm, Playful, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Melodic, Sound Collage, Vocal Manipulation

Art Ensemble of Chicago – Full Force

Style: Avant-Garde Jazz, Free Jazz
Vibe: Abstract, Communal, Exploratory, Rootsy
Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Poly-Free Improvisation, Dynamic

Paul de Jong – IF

Style: Collage Pop, Glitch-Folk, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Bittersweet, Warm, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic

Spaza – Spaza

“There is a heightened and sustained sense of intuition running through this recording whose sonic palette is so wide it captures – through soundscaping, invocation, lament, impressionistic vocal weaving – not only the transient and hybridised nature of life in Johannesburg, but also the heaviness of the air at the time of its recording. More ambient, controlled swirl of rhythm and experimental mixing than incessant groove, the album is an outpouring of a range of expressions that exist between the supposed binaries of indigenous forms of music and the electronic experimentation Johannesburg is known globally for.” (from Bandcamp)

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

Style: Psychedelic Funk

Vibe: Apocalyptic, Communal, Cryptic, Earthy, Energetic, Epic, Groovy, Heavy, Philosophical, Playful, Political, Psychedelic, Riffs, Stoned, Eclectic

Anthony Braxton – Creative Orchestra Music 1976

Style: Avant-Garde Big Band, Free Jazz

Vibe: Cerebral, Bombastic, Energetic, Complex, Abstract

Musical Attributes: Dense, Poly-Free Improvisation, Polyphonic, Dynamic, Instrumental, Technical, Innovative

Gruppe Nuova Consonanza – Improvisationen

Style: Free Improvisation, Experimental, Tape Music

Vibe: Suspenseful, Active Listening

Musical Attributes: Collective Improvisation, Atonal, Sparse, Dynamic

Instrumentation: Trumpet, Upright Bass, Cello, Trombone, Percussion, Piano, Electro-Magnetic Tape

Tangents – Stateless

“The five-piece band synthesise contemporary classical forms – most often recalling Steve Reich or Philip Glass – and marry them to the looseness and improvisational nature of jazz and the dynamics of head-nodding electronic music. Stateless is at once both carefully composed and freely flowing. The compositions included here are more about rhythm, texture and contrast than definable melodies and harmonic structures.” – Scott Wallace [Sydney Scoop]

Ambarchi / O’Malley / Dunn – Shade Themes from Kairos

Style: Drone-Rock, Experimental Rock

Influences: Dark Ambient, Psych Rock, Kosmische, Noise, Drone-Metal

Vibe: Shadowy, Ominous, Brooding, Dark, Driving, Haunting, Hypnotic, Mysterious, Exploratory, Nocturnal, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Studio-as-an-instrument, Dissonant, Droney

Black Spirituals – Of Deconstruction

Style: Free Improvisation
Influences: Spiritual Jazz, Noise, Free Jazz
Vibe: Spiritual, Ritualistic, Cathartic, Abstract

Recommended for fans of Albert Ayler, Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley

Supersilent – 6

LPx2, Rune Grammofon (Distributed by ECM), 2003 Recorded December 3-7, 2001

Ulver – ATGCLVLSSCAP

This heavy drone rock feels like a journey through some haunted terrains and forests in ancient Europe. Monolithic fogs of synths and electronic soundscapes drone on for minutes at a time, occasionally being infiltrated by psychedelic guitars and pummeling marches of drums and bass. Given the cohesive ark, determined focus, and fluidity of the album (without as much as a pause between tracks until track 7), it was surprising to find that most of the songs are studio-enchanced improvisations pulled from 2014 tour recordings.

Recommended for fans of motorik drums, the thick drone of early Earth or Sunn O))), psychedelic guitar noises and fuzzy stoner rock riffs.

Anthony Davis – Epist?m?

Style: Poly-Free Improvisation, Modern Classical, Avant-Garde Big Band

Vibe: Complex, Hypnotic, Intense, Suspenseful, Cerebral

Musical Attributes: Polyrhythmic, Polyphonic, Odd Time Signatures, Acoustic, Poly-Free Improvisation, Repetitive

Instrumentation: Orchestral, Mallet Percussion (Marimba, Vibraphone, etc) Violin, Cello, Piano, Trombone, Drums, Flute, Bass Clarinet

This Heat – Deceit

Originally released in 1981 on Rough Trade Modern Classics Reissue (2016) Format: LP

Bark Psychosis – Hex

Originally Released in 1994 on Circa Records 2017 Fire Records reissue Format: LPx2, 45 RPM

Dave Harrington Group – Pure Imagination, No Country

Innovative guitarist and producer Dave Harrington (Darkside) uses his latest record to explore the outer reaches of improvisation and compositional post-production. Pure Imagination, No Country is jazz-rock fusion stripped of its retro connotations—fusing hard grooves, free flights of collective improvisation, and futuristic ambience to create something that is at turns atmospheric and in your face.

Recommended for fans of Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, or Jaga Jazzist

Zammuto – Anchor

Released in 2014 on Temporary Residence Records Format: LP Limited edition, includes screen printed cover, #140/1000

Brian Eno – Ambient 4: On Land

Style: Ambient, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Suspenseful, Desert, Desolate, Earthy, Mysterious, Eerie, Ethereal, Contemplative, Lonely, Impressionistic

Musical Qualities: Atmospheric, Instrumental, Analogue, Abstract

Fly Pan Am – Fly Pan Am

Style: Experimental Rock, Post-Rock
Influences: Kosmische Musik, Minimalism
Vibe: Minimalistic, Exploratory, Spacey, Raw, Noisy, Abstract
Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Repetitive, Analogue Recording

Nils Frahm – Spaces

Originally released in 2013 on Erased Tapes 2015 VinylMePlease Pressing Format: LPx2

Tortoise – Tortoise

Originally released in 1994 on Thrill Jockey Records 2016 reissue Recorded November 29 thru December 5, 1993

Oren Ambarchi – Live Knots

This hypnotic, noisy, and improvisatory live album from Australian experimenter, collaborator, and improviser Oren Ambarchi features two separate performances of his epic composition “Knots”. (Click for full review)

The Books – The Way Out

The Books’ music is simultaneously funny, innovative, catchy and enlightening. They use found sound and spoken word mixed with innovative recording techniques and acoustic instruments to create beautiful sound-collages that somehow create unity between all these disparate sources, as if they were all meant to be together. Everything these guys do, solo or together, is absolute genius.

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King

Released in 1969 on Atlantic Format: LP Pressing quality: While this album is a masterpiece, these early pressings/masters sound a little tinny and lacking in low end. The recent reissues I’ve heard seem to be improved quality.