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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Chippendale/Gustafsson/Pupillo, 'Melt'
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17/20

17. Chippendale/Gustafsson/Pupillo, 'Melt'

This summit for three hard-playing iconoclasts of aggro-skronk – saxophonist Mats Gustafsson of the Thing, bassist Massimo Pupillo of Zu and drummer Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt – is a beast where the chops and fury of noise-punk, snuff jazz and art-metal combine into a giddy mosh. Beyond a few minutes of rhythmic cohesion, it would be hard to argue that the trio exactly "jell" on the 32-minute opener: Chippendale in improv mode often sounds like a dumptruck of marbles being slowly poured onto a drumkit. But the joy is in the mess-making, an ecstatic jumble that's both mischievous and menacing, light in attitude but heavy on both distortion and sweat. The 46-minute closer, "Flesh. Transformed. Melted.," starts with a ponderous story about Metallica and then rocks and feeds back appropriately.

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