AOTY 2020
PopMatters' Best Avant-Garde and Experimental Music of 2016

PopMatters' Best Avant-Garde and Experimental Music of 2016

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Matmos - Ultimate Care II
February 19, 2016
Critic Score
16 reviews

It’s works like Ultimate Care II that draw a clear line in the sand between thoughtless attention-seeking and a deep commitment to experimentation.


Julianna Barwick - Will
May 6, 2016
Critic Score
21 reviews

Evocative and turbulent, the mostly buoyant compositions seek the freedom to extend beyond a moment or locale. A faintly sketched canvas, listeners can color their own emotions to Will.


Foodman - Ez Minzoku
May 13, 2016
Critic Score
3 reviews


Kiran Leonard - Grapefruit
March 25, 2016
Critic Score
12 reviews

Grapefruit revels in its difficulty and intelligence, but sometimes these are the very ideas that the music collapses on.


Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
September 30, 2016
Critic Score
22 reviews

Blood Bitch is a record that doesn’t try to be anything. Whereas Apocalypse, Girl was contrived and Viscera was uneventful, this record is dreamy and memorable, both through its illusion of simplicity and its gentle invitation to listeners.


Bon Iver - 22, A Million
September 30, 2016
Critic Score
42 reviews
With this album, Justin Vernon and Bon Iver have made an attempt at rebuilding their little boat into a massive, complicated, and intensely modern ship.


Tim Hecker - Love Streams
April 8, 2016
Critic Score
25 reviews

It makes perfect sense that Love Streams is Hecker’s first record with label 4AD, as it sort of sounds like the Cocteau Twins if they decided to live inside a glacier, communing with Old Norse land spirits and subsisting exclusively on psychedelic mushrooms. Love Streams is at once familiar and totally alien; a work of art that reminds us why we need art in the first place.


Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
September 30, 2016
Critic Score
19 reviews

Jaar has been a formidable producer since releasing his earliest singles, but Sirens, more than any other previous release, proves that he is every bit as capable as all the artists mentioned above in creating a true masterpiece. 


Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
September 27, 2016
Critic Score
34 reviews

Atrocity Exhibition is Danny Brown’s greatest musical achievement thus far because the Detroit native not only elevated his lyricism, but also complimented said lyricism with atmospheric production and distinct flows that accentuate everything he’s saying.


The Avalanches - Wildflower
July 8, 2016
Critic Score
43 reviews
The hard work the band put into this album over the past decade and half is abundantly obvious. As with their debut, the exquisitely painstaking craftsmanship, the overriding sense of joy and wonder, the ears wide open to an infinite universe of sonic possibility are all there. It sounds like the Avalanches, and nothing else does.
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