20 Best Avant Albums of 2014

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

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Stine Janvin Motland, 'OK, Wow'
20
10/20

10. Stine Janvin Motland, 'OK, Wow'

Of the two records released by Norwegian vocal gymnast Stine Janvin Motland, this one is far simpler — but far more explosive. OK, Wow, places her in a wooden church full of beautiful, natural echo. This means very little beyond atmosphere gets between the listener and a voice that's performing some of contemporary free improv's most imaginative feats. She plays her voice like John Zorn does a saxophone, taking advantage of any and all sounds it can produce: glottal two-part self-harmonies, squeaks, farts, monkey sounds, snorts — all blazing out in unexpected ways. "OK Wow" ranges from sensitive (the 11-minute "Kroken"), to triumphant ("Alt det overflødige renner ut" is Part Yoko, part Björk) to completely visceral (the barrage of high-pitched squeals of "Herz"). 

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