20 Best Avant Albums of 2014

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

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Jon Mueller's Death Blues, 'Non-Fiction'

6. Jon Mueller's Death Blues, 'Non-Fiction'

Though neither more celebrated nor ambitious as Ensemble, the 16-page hardback book and vinyl record also released by Jon Mueller's Death Blues project this year, this 33-minute art-rock suite in two movements is heavier, more digestable and ultimately more satisfying. Like the sprawl of recent Swans live sets (or Shellac as a Rhys Chatham cover band), the Wisconsin-based drummer and his band hammer away on uncomplicated-yet-bludgeoning shards — Glenn Branca guitar explosions, chattering percussion, vocals that go from moaning to gibberish — until they build into hypnotic, shimmering clouds.

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