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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Overtone Ensemble, 'Overtone Ensemble'

14. Overtone Ensemble, 'Overtone Ensemble'

Melbourne's Overtone Ensemble make drone music at its most fragile, intimate and thought-provoking: high-pitched and often more like tinnitus than a song. Playing homemade "vibrissa instuments" that involve stroking aluminum rods, the quartet gently squeals out minimalist, microtonal music that's totally acoustic – a shimmering, pulsating, clashing long-distance squeak that allows listeners to exploring living, breathing sound waves. Matching the vibrissas with singing bowls and scuba gongs only opens up new sound worlds. For this truly one-of-kind group, it's not the notes you play, but what the notes do after you play them.

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