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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Mica Levi and Oliver Coates, 'Remain Calm'
20
16/20

16. Mica Levi and Oliver Coates, 'Remain Calm'

At turns elegant and weird, this collaboration between Mica Levi (the auteur behind the unsettling soundtracks to Under the Skin and Jackie) and Oliver Coates (composer and Radiohead cellist) is a compelling piece of electroacoustic sculpture that bends the familiar textures of pop, modern classical and dance music. Under 28 minutes long, Remain Calm blends the natural and the virtual. Coates' lyrical, occasionally treated, occasionally animalistic cello accompanies dub loops, sunrise drones, vaporwave-y loops and glitchy skitter. Together on the 43-second "Schoolhouse," the pair creates lush, echoing stabs that could be used by Timbaland or Dr. Dre, and splay them into a pointillist array.

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