50 Best Albums of 2018 So Far

Including Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, the 'Black Panther' soundtrack and more

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Autechre, 'NTS Sessions 1-4'

Autechre, 'NTS Sessions 1-4'

These forward-thinking veterans of electronic music are starting to feel like the world's most cerebral jam band. Their NTS Radio series – compiling nearly 8 hours(!) of music on a 8-CD or 12-LP set – showcase their recent move towards longform pieces that still contain their trademark brain-boggle: seemingly inhuman sounds, melodies and rhythms built through programming code. It's up for debate exactly what is live, composed, improvised or artificial intelligence run amok, but it's a diverse set that covers a lot of ground: heavy squelches, electro with the lurching gait of a twisted ankle, tippy-tappy excursions into vintage IDM drum skitter and "All End," a 58-minute spaceship glint-scape like a stretched and throbbing update of the Solaris soundtrack. C.W.

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