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Top Experimental Releases of 2016

Image Title: Australian field recordist Kate Carr Image Source: Ears Have Ears
Scarlett Di Maio · December 5, 2016

Following the recent death of American avant-garde electronic composer Pauline Oliveros, The Huffington Post wrote a poignant piece on why we need experimental music now, more than ever. It was a great reminder about the importance of experimentation in sound and the need for us to continuously challenge the traditional notions of what music is. Australia has always been up to this challenge, boasting a rich and diverse experimental music community with an abundance of talent, celebrating obscurity for all its strengths.

2016 saw the release of many exceptional left-of-field outputs. Here’s a taste of some of our personal favourites this year….

Tralala Blip – Oceans Of Love, (February, Tenth Court)

Based in Lismore on the far north coast of NSW, this group breaks boundaries left, right and centre. The project came about after Randy Reimann formed the five-piece in 2007 by working with a group of talented musicians with mental and physical disabilities. Carving their own unique take on electronic music, Oceans Of Love is a stunning fusion of pop, unusual beats, offbeat vocals and ambient electronica.

Kate Carr – I Had Myself A Nuclear Spring (November, Flaming Pines)

This Australian-born globetrotter creates impressive soundscapes which explore the complex and contradictory relationships we often find ourselves having with natural world. Collecting intricate field recordings of natural environments, some of Carr’s previous documentations include underwater drones, tourists chasing dolphins, bustling airports and street corners in abandoned Mexican towns. This provocative field recordist maintains an engrossing back catalogue on her own label, Flaming Pines. Dive deep into this acousmatic journey.

Rebel Yell – Mother Of Millions EP (August, Rice Is Nice)

Rebel Yell aka Grace Stevenson from Brisbane is relatively new to the experimental scene, but she is already proving to be a force to be reckoned with. Working with a Korg ESZ-1 and a Metal Zone pedal, Stevenson mixes relentless pulsating rhythms with dark industrial beats, sure to get anyone on the dance floor moving. Known for being inspired by “dark tech” CDR’s and the soundtrack from ‘Hackers’, this is an act you should keep your eye on. No doubt great things are in store.

Oren Ambarchi – Hubris (November, Editions Mego)

Oren Ambarchi is a critically acclaimed composer who has been active in Australia since the late 90’s. The Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist has a longstanding fascination with transcending conventional instrumental approaches, with a larger focus on guitar abstraction and extended technique. His latest venture, Hubris, is an immersive exploration into meditative rhythms, ambient soundscapes and features some mesmerising synth work from Jim O’Rourke, a frequent collaborator. Yet another great addition to his impressive catalogue.

Kane Ikin – Basalt Crush (May, Latency Recordings)

This experimental producer from Melbourne is known for his atmospheric dance-floor-minded music with a cinematic twist. Expect to hear deep dark synths lines, throbbing bass pulses, surreal techno beats, metallic clangs and industrial scrapes. If bent club music is your thing, don’t miss this one.

Want to discover more Australian experimental music? Check out blogs like Cyclic Defrost and festivals like Liquid Architecture, the NOW Now, Unsound Adelaide and Open Frame.

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