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Avant Garde

CVLT Nation’s Top 10 AVANT GARDE Records of 2023

#10 LAIKAMORI △​△​△

Few musical projects have blown me away like LAIKAMORÍ. This duo makes some of the sickest electronic music I’ve ever heard, and their entire otherworldly presence is just…chef’s kiss. They create such strange, beautiful, avant garde sounds, blending the sweetest, most ethereal dream pop with gothic darkness and experimental melodic weirdness. They’re an audiovisual project, and if you haven’t witnessed the stunning landscapes they create to accompany their unearthly sounds then you need to watch the performance they did for us. I’ve always said that when aliens finally introduce themselves, I’m going to recommend they listen to LAIKAMORÍ so they know they’re welcome on our beautiful planet.

#9 KINN Dogtooth

Have you ever looked up to the Grey London sky bit through the bleakness you can see the sun? Have you ever looked out of the window of a South London council estate and thought about the broken souls that exist in this city? Have you heard music that takes you back in time while pushing you into a new space and time? These are the kind of thoughts that come to mind as I listen to Kinn’s new album Dogtooth out via First Light Records. As I listen to “When The Real Is No Longer There” I can’t help but think about how unjust and lonely it feels to exist in a place that does not care about. The levels of sonic misery you will encounter on Dogtooth is Heavy AF but at the same time, the tones are shrouded in a sense of sorrowful hope. The soundscapes that Kinn creates are portals into places many of us don’t want to go and for that fact, I’m a HUGE FAN.

#8 DEAFKIDS Ritos do Colapso

For more than a decade we’ve championed unique underground expression, and one of the first bands to really embody the creativity we wanted to amplify in the world was DEAFKIDS! From the first time we played their self-titled tape in 2011 to their new release, Ritos Do Colapso, DEAFKIDS have inspired us to keep searching for and sharing music that pushes every boundary we thought possible! They fuse the cultural instruments of Brazil’s Indigenous and African roots with acid-fueled psychedelic rock-meets-techno-meets-d-beat that blows my mind every time. 

#7 H31R HeadSpace

H31R’s new album HeadSpace gets my mind right! I had a proud father moment because my 9-year-old daughter started dancing as soon as she heard “Backwards”. Throughout 14 tracks these two humans reshape Hip Hop as we know it! Listening to their album is so empowering and uplifting!

#6 Fågelle Den svenska vreden

Certain music takes my mind to beautiful places where I’m free of any negative self-talk. Certain music takes me to a place that feels like my past but gives me a sonic window into my future. Fågelle’s music is beyond special and her voice is transcendental plus magical. Her new album Den svenska vreden is full of fragile soundscapes that are powerful. I suggest y’all light a candle turn the lights down put on the track “Jag går när jag är klar” and allow yourself to experience the sonic bliss that is Fågelle. I feel so blessed to be able to share the majesty of this artist with y’all. I know for a fact that anyone that listens to Den svenska vreden knows that it is otherworldly!

#5 KÆRY ANN Songs of Grace and Ruin

Hell yes, the new Kæry Ann album Songs of Grace and Ruin is the FUCKING BOMB! Imagine if Mazzy Star, Cat Power, and Gram Parsons decided to have a sonic love child it might just sound like this album. I’m so impressed with the dirgy dynamics that this band exudes on every tune!

#4 EARTHEATER Powders

One of the most magical artists I’ve encountered in the last decade is EARTHEATER. She’s tangibly materialistic and unreal and otherworldly all at the same time. I’ve sat silently listening through her albums many times and found myself in tears one moment and my chest burning with love in another. Somehow she takes electronics, a genre I often find cold and mechanical, and grounds it in our planet and makes it sound like the most natural thing in the world, like her tones are reverberating from Earth’s molten core itself.

Powders is more magickal than anything I’ve heard from her before, orchestral electronica dipped in trip hop, and experimental jazz, with her eerily angelic vocals enmeshed throughout it all. This record feels like Björk meets Portishead and The Flaming Lips on board an alien rocketship and they all head out into the void of space to record an album with the instruments they find on board.

#3 ARMAND HAMMER We Buy Diabetic Test Strips

Sun Ra, The Watts Prophets, The Last Poets are our sonic ancestors who have pushed us into the future past the present. ARMAND HAMMER are two insanely artistic sonic curators whose new album We Buy Diabetic Test Strips is deeper than the hieroglyphics found on the Rosetta Stone. I’m not going to put them in the underground MC box because they are way more than that. Honestly, they have manifested a record that’s more Punk than most and heavier than most! ARMAND HAMMER are the audio missing link and the history book that you need to read right now. They are so NYC. They are so Black. They are free, and they make me feel so Free.

#2 JIM LEGXACY homeless n*gga pop music

Hey, JIM LEGXACY’s homeless n*gga pop music is one of my favorite records of 2023. This mixtape is the sound of Black British culture and I’m addicted! Every tune on this release is a banger and the production is UNEAL! I could never hate on a record that samples “Candy Rain.” I want to say thank Jim for blessing the world with homeless n*gga pop music.

#1 SPACE AFRIKA & RAINY MILLER Album Title

As I listen to the new Space Afrika & Rainy Miller collabo album A Grisaille Wedding, I can’t help but have full-body chills. Songs like “The Graves At Charleroi (feat. Coby Sey)” remind me of the British skies I looked up to as I choked on my depression, but within this despair, I knew there would be better days. The production on this track rolls over your reality like fog rising in the morning and Coby Sey’s voice is a lantern full of cold bliss. A Grisaille Wedding is an album that is not background music but music that feeds your inner self the sonic nourishment that it needs. I’m not surprised that Space Afrika & Rainy Miller have manifested a record that has no mother or father to its sound. The tunes you experience while listening to A Grisaille Wedding are full of audio textures that can only be created by these artists! The massive tune “1-2-1” drops mad jewels about the reality of relationships and really hits home for me.

To say that I’m happy about this project would be an understatement. Space Afrika & Rainy Miller joining forces is a dream come true for me because in the past they have manifested some of my favorite projects. What is evident about A Grisaille Wedding is the creativity and passion that these artists have for each other’s creations because I can hear in every soundscape that I experience on this majestic sonic event! I will never overstand the true power of A Grisaille Wedding until the vinyl is playing in our while I look out into the Vancouver sky!

Written By

Relapse DF 92123
Sentient 51423

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