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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Autechre, 'Elseq 3'

3. Autechre, 'Elseq 3'

Though it's hard not to think of the four hours of new music simultaneously released by Autechre in 2016 as one jittery binge-listen cycle, its longest and most monolithic piece stands alone as a sizzling, wildly modern blur of electronic music, dark ambient and 20th Century composition, sounding like a virtual-reality version of Alvin Lucier's Music on a Long Thin Wire. With swarms of dissonance, the 22-minute "Eastre" heaves and convulses and snaps like a pit of digital snakes, and the 24-minute "Mesh Cinereal" boils like a shoegaze song sputtering and coughing its way out of an industrial slurry. Save the comparatively tiny "TBM2," an interlude that plinks and booms like a corroded version of the Mantronix beats Autechre were weaned on in the Eighties, Elseq 3 is deconstructed club music in the vein of Oneohtrix Point Never, Roly Porter and Lee Gamble. Here, the textures of lost, strobe-flickered nights are spread out into an expressionist tapestry.

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