20 Best Avant Albums of 2017

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

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The Necks, 'Unfold'
20
4/20

4. The Necks, 'Unfold'

After spending decades unspooling long-form pieces of slowly building, meditative, telepathic improv, Australian ambient jazz trio the Necks have made their first masterwork for the new era of 22-minute vinyl sides. Unlabeled (they can be played in any order), some of these four tracks partially eschew the glacial builds and slow-lane cruises they made their name on, instead opting for a more static ambient interplay ("Rise," "Timepiece") with drummer Tony Buck treating his seed-shell shakers or snare drum brushes as scenery builders instead of dramatic tools. The other two songs prove they are still the Tarkovskys of jazz ­– "Blue Mountain" hitting a mournful, cymbal-heavy post-rock crescendo and "Overhear" playing like Bernie Worrell jamming with a Williams Sonoma.

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