Fresh Snow: 13 Experimental / Improv Albums We Love

Last week, we featured Fresh Snow’s latest record as a shining example of experimental post-rock and modern improv. We enjoyed the record so much we asked the band if they could share their favourite experimental and improv records with us. This was what they came back with. Thanks to the band for sharing this with us!

Brad Davis (guitars, keys)

Oliva Tremor Control

Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle

This album is a psychedelic -pop masterpiece. Overflowing with ideas, this record found a way to marry sound collage and concise songwriting without every seeming forced or laboured. It is like Badfinger and Karlheinz Stockhausen rolled into one.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

David Sylvian

Manafon

I have been on a kick with these later David Sylvian records. This and Blemish are my current favourites. I adore the atmosphere he creates with the musicians (Christian Fennesz, Evan Parker, Toshimaru Nakamura, etc.) and how brave he is in leaving space and letting sounds hang. This isn’t an easy record to listen to. The subject matter is quite dark, but for some reason I find myself drawn to it. In a way, it is so bleak that it makes me feel better about the world.

Listen: Amazon

OLD

The Musical Dimensions of Sleastak

In 1993 I was listening to a lot of death metal and indie rock and nothing sounded as strange and otherworldly as this record. I think James Plotkin is consistently brilliant and I love Alan Dubin’s vocals/lyrics. It is constantly morphing. It is a harsh, organic, and truly psychedelic listening experience. The final track, “Backwards Through the Greedo Compressor” is a real mind-melter of studio mix improvisation.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

Andy J. Lloyd (bass)

Julianna Barwick

Nepenthe

The most beautiful vocals imaginable, structured into perfect topographical dreamscapes.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

Max Richter

From Sleep

A master composer creating endlessly simple and beautiful sounds, masterfully.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

Nailbiter

Formats

Punishing awesomeness, delivered without apology, but with style.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Spotify

Jon Maki (drums)

Flower-Corsano Duo

You'll Never Work In This Town Again

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the Flower-Corsano Duo live twice. Once in Toronto and again in Helsinki. Both shows were absolutely blistering. Being a drummer, Chris Corsano blows my mind every time I see him. This self-released live recording is a really good representation of what you should expect from the aural magic created by just a Bulbul tarang (Indian banjo) and drums/percussion.

Bola Sete

Ocean Memories

Bola Sete is one of my favourite unsung artists and one of my favourite artists in general. John Fahey originally put this album out on his Takoma label in 1975, but this 2 CD reissue has an additional disc of unreleased recordings. Some of the most beautiful guitar work you’ll ever hear in your life.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon

Laura Spiegel

The Expanding Universe

One of the earliest and most compelling computer based albums to reach my ears. Composed from 1974–1976. Her ambient music truly does lead to expansion of your mind’s universe.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

Tim Condon (keys, guitar)

The Necks

Drive By

I discovered The Necks by seeing them at the Spitz in London (UK), one of the most conducive-to-a-good-show venues anywhere in the world. They were extraordinary. The next time I saw them was at the Corner Hotel, in Melbourne, on a hot January night (I think it was 44c), and the air conditioning had broken down. Not conducive to listening to an at times small, quiet, slow and building improvised musical experience. But yet they were equally as extraordinary. They are the best band in the world at making you forget where you, and they are, and being held, immersed in their world of texture, melody and space. Every album of theirs is incredible, but Drive By is a great starting point, especially when traveling long distances.

Listen: iTunes / Amazon

Alessandro Cortini

Sonno

I find it insulting to call this “experimental” – this album is filled with musical experiences that are familiar to anyone who has experienced heartbreak, sadness, loneliness or isolation. This is not experimental – upon first listen it is instantly familiar and innate. The saddest, most fractured and gorgeous of melodies, all tripped up by noise, static and orchestrated by a mechanical sequence. The opening track, “Rovine” says a million words in seven and a half minutes. Sadly gorgeous throughout.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

Fire! With Jim O'Rourke

Are You Still Both Unreleased?

Fire! just use Mats Gustafsson’s atonal, nagging, persistent, pained and screaming saxophone to blast forward, destroying any hesitation over what the fuck is going on. It’s just happening. Try putting this on (in particular opening track “Are You Both Still Unreleased?”) at a decent volume and watching how many people are physically repelled by how blunt, brutal and difficult this music is.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify

Oren Ambarchi

Sagittarian Domain

Ambarchi continues to astound and astound (in particular in 2012, when this album was released, alongside 9 other releases he put out that year) uses repetition and layers to push forward, moving past any contemporaries with grace.

Elsewhere in 2012, Oren Ambarchi teamed up with Fire! for their album In The Mouth – A Hand. 2012 was a pretty great year.

Listen: iTunes / Apple Music / Amazon / Spotify