20 Best Avant Albums of 2015

The year's best in noise, out-jazz, contemporary classical, ambient, drone and more

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Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, 'Never Were the Way She Was'
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6. Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, 'Never Were the Way She Was'

The pairing of bass saxophone lungbeast Colin Stetson and keening landscapist Sarah Neufeld was almost too obvious — both are fans of Philip Glass-ian repetition, both tilt towards melancholy melody, both utilize a light dusting of vocal sounds to remind you that humans produce these mechanical rhythms. They compliment each other perfectly: Neufeld soars to registers a tugboat tooter could never reach, Stetson provides metal-ready blackened churn as a counterpoint to the strings' delicate melody. Though clearly rooted in minimalist composition, there's a post-rock grandeur and rhythms that swing like a groove-heavy Amphetamine Reptile noise-metal band. Incredibly sad, incredibly tough.

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