20 Best Avant Albums of 2017

The year's best in ambient, noise, out-jazz, experimental electronic and more

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Pharmakon, 'Contact'
20
15/20

15. Pharmakon, 'Contact'

On her third and best album, New York noise artist Pharmakon abandons the pound-and-yell power electronics that made her a critical fave, instead favoring a more patient layering of blasts, squelches and harsh drone. Instead of a weaponized bludgeon, it's more like a harsher, more vein-popping answer to the Midwest brand of Wolf Eyes creep-out: pained and claustrophobic cries from the din ("Nakedness of Need"), trance-like wall-screaming ("Transmission") or slaughterhouse scrapes ("Sleepwalking Form").

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