20 Best Avant Albums of 2017

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

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Ryuichi Sakamoto, 'Async'
20
16/20

16. Ryuichi Sakamoto, 'Async'

For his first solo album in eight years – and first since battling throat cancer – Academy Award–winning film composer and art-pop pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto returns with a wistful android suite. These slow washes blur the line between analog and digital, with noise swarming piano melodies. "Zure" ripples in a digital pond, two pulses getting farther apart; the violent "Async" sounds like a Xenakis-style string-slammer, yet no orchestra is credited; "Honj" sounds like shamisen in the rain but electronics join the atmosphere.

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