20 Best Avant Albums of 2016

The year's best in ambient, noise, out-jazz, synth music, contemporary composition and more

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Battle Trance, 'Blade of Love'
20
7/20

7. Battle Trance, 'Blade of Love'

Another set of clashing frequencies and wrestling crosswinds from Brooklyn tenor-sax quartet Battle Trance, this 40-minute dronefeast turns the phrasing and techniques of contemporary jazz into a team exercise in nu-weirdo American minimalism. While their first album, 2014's Palace of Wind, laid the textural blueprint, leader Travis LaPlante (full disclosure: a friend) and his small army are more melodically confident this time around, letting the occasional bluesy lick pour alongside these swarms of reeds. Their playbook seems open and exploratory: mouthpiece humming, accelerating tornados, harsh syncopation, windblown whistles, high-pitched whines and wooshes similar to ocean waves.

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