Music

The Best Experimental Bands/Artists  

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5k votes 697 voters 38.4k views 426 items

Unlike other musical genres, anything that experimental bands do is unpredictable. Whether that's by nature, by training or just something they enjoy doing, experimental artists know how to push the envelope on what their fans consume sonically and their songs generally challenge the convention of even what loyal fans can predict will happen. The bands on this list are generally of the pop and rock music variety. Many of the experimental bands and experimental artists are on here for their willingness to change song structure, fuse genres and use instruments and sounds that weren't well known or even thought of in the same way.

So, what are the best experimental bands and experimental artists? You've probably heard of the experimental music artists that are in the top half of this list. David Bowie, Bjork, Animal Collective, Frank Zappa and Peter Murphy are names associated with experimental music. These artists have all challenged their listeners by releasing music that isn't conventional and thus, have actually become more beloved by their fans.

That said, it's up to you to determine what are the best experimental bands. If you notice that a band isn't on this list and should be, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best experimental music bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest experimental music musician ever?"

If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular experimental music bands that you might've heard of. (426 items)
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list ordered by
1
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music
2
Death Grips is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Luke Albright added Alternative hip hop, Experimental hip hop, Industrial hip hop
3
Björk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Electronic dance music, Jazz, Tribal house
4
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music
5
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Experimental rock, Heavy metal
6
Swans is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, No wave
7
Scott Walker is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Pop music, Rock music, Merseybeat
8
Throbbing Gristle is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Dark ambient, Electronic music
9
Einstürzende Neubauten is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Noise rock, Industrial rock
10
Butthole Surfers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Neo-psychedelia
11
Portishead is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Krautrock, Breakbeat, Folktronica
12
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
*DSO* added

Albums: Lemon Freddy Phantom of the Sky (2017)

Tomorrow is Yesterday (2016)

13
The Residents is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Experimental rock
14
Nurse with Wound is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Drone music, Industrial music
15
J.G. Thirlwell is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
VioletaEspejo added
16
Abandoned Toys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added
17
Natasha Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added
18
Tuxedomoon is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
New Wave, Experimental music, Punk rock
19
Melisande Mourning is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added
20
Merzbow is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Musique concrète, Noise
21
Samantha Bouquin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added
22
Laurie Anderson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Experimental music, Art rock
23
Autechre is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Hip hop music, Minimal techno, Electro
24
Diamanda Galás is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Gothic rock, No wave, Electronic music
25
The Synthetic Dream Foundation is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added Neoclassical Dark Wave, Trip hop, Steampunk