20 Best Avant Albums of 2014

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

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James Hoff, 'Blaster'

11. James Hoff, 'Blaster'

New York music-leaning conceptual artist James Hoff (he's also made USB cufflinks and an audio cable sculpture) unleashed the early-'00s Blaster computer virus on some 808 beats — and then cobbled their infected, mangled remains to create new songs. His seven compositions are half John Cage and half Autechre; warmer than "glitch techno," colder than Syro; mostly blasts of fuzz and video game morse code that come in two or three minute bursts. The B-side of raw source materials is supposed to mirror a DJ "scratch record" but the non-stop, unrelenting randomness makes it a stronger piece, sounding like 15 minutes of Transformers training camp.

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