bands/musicians The Best Experimental Bands/Artists  

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4.6k votes 626 voters 37.3k views 416 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. (416 items)
list ordered by

1
182 67
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
David Bowie Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

2
23 12
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
*DSO* added The Arcana Albums: Lemon Freddy Phantom of the Sky (2017) Tomorrow is Yesterday (2016)

3
67 60
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

4
40 34
Scott Walker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Scott Walker Pop music, Rock music, Merseybeat

5
98 97
Björk is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Björk Electronic dance music, Jazz, Tribal house

6
56 55
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Frank Zappa Rock music, Experimental rock, Heavy metal

7
14 9
Abandoned Toys is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added Abandoned Toys

8
12 7
Natasha Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added Natasha Nightingale

9
12 7
Melisande Mourning is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added Melisande Mourning

10
51 52
Swans is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Swans Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

11
14 10
Samantha Bouquin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added Samantha Bouquin

12
12 8
The Synthetic Dream Foundation is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added The Synthetic Dream Foundation Neoclassical Dark Wave, Trip hop, Steampunk

13
27 26
Portishead is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Portishead Krautrock, Breakbeat, Folktronica

14
31 33
The Residents is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
The Residents Noise rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

The Best New Female Artists

15
34 38
Coil is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Coil Dark ambient, Electronic music, Noise music

16
4 2
Death Grips is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Luke Albright added Death Grips Alternative hip hop, Experimental hip hop, Industrial hip hop

17
7 6
Haruomi Hosono is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
VioletaEspejo added Haruomi Hosono Synthpop, Worldbeat, Rock music

18
18 20
Throbbing Gristle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Throbbing Gristle Noise rock, Dark ambient, Electronic music

19
26 30
Butthole Surfers is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Butthole Surfers Noise rock, Rock music, Neo-psychedelia

20
13 14
Nurse with Wound is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Nurse with Wound Dark ambient, Drone music, Industrial music

21
21 24
Tuxedomoon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Tuxedomoon New Wave, Experimental music, Punk rock

The Best Rock Vocalists

22
4 3
Boredoms is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Liam Davies added Boredoms Krautrock, Noise rock, Psychedelia

23
20 23
Genesis P-Orridge is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Genesis P-Orridge Psychedelia, Psychedelia, Industrial music

24
3 2
Bowery Electric is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Bowery Electric Downtempo, Shoegazing, Trip hop

25
15 17
Autechre is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Autechre Hip hop music, Minimal techno, Electro

26
30 36
Psychic TV is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Psychic TV Acid house, Electronic music, Post-industrial music

27
18 21
Steve Lieberman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
GANGSTARABBI added Steve Lieberman Garage punk, Outsider music, Heavy metal

28
18 21
J.G. Thirlwell is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
VioletaEspejo added J.G. Thirlwell

The Best K-pop Dancers of All Time

29
10 11
Blixa Bargeld is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Blixa Bargeld Dark ambient, Rock music, Industrial music

30
6 6
Einstürzende Neubauten is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Einstürzende Neubauten Dark ambient, Noise rock, Industrial rock

31
6 6
Merzbow is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Merzbow Dark ambient, Musique concrète, Noise

32
41 50
Animal Collective is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Animal Collective Psychedelic folk, New Weird America, Electronic music

33
72 89
Satanicpornocultshop is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
StevøPearce added Satanicpornocultshop Dubstep, Electronic music, Ghetto house

34
9 10
Current 93 is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Current 93 Dark ambient, Post-industrial music, Neofolk

35
9 10
Laurie Anderson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Laurie Anderson Experimental music, Art rock

Songs That Were Total Ripoffs

36
16 19
Diamanda Galás is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Diamanda Galás Gothic rock, No wave, Electronic music

37
11 13
Marc Ribot is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Marc Ribot Electronic music, Experimental music, Alternative rock

38
22 27
David Sylvian is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
DuncanLindsell added David Sylvian New Wave, Electronic music, Classical music

39
29 36
Klaus Nomi is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Klaus Nomi Synthpop, New Wave, Disco

40
6 7
Lindsay Cooper is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Lindsay Cooper Avant-progressive rock, Experimental rock, Experimental music

41
3 4
Keiji Haino is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Keiji Haino Psychedelia, Rock music, Drone music

42
13 17
Mike Garson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Mike Garson New Wave, Rock music, Jazz

The Best Jennifer Lopez Albums of All Time

43
6 8
Mike Oldfield is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Mike Oldfield Synthpop, Rock music, World music

44
33 43
Luigi Russolo is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Luigi Russolo Experimental music, Avant-garde

45
9 12
Trey Spruance is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Trey Spruance Avant-progressive rock, Experimental rock, Experimental music

46
9 12
Cluster is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Cluster Krautrock, Electronic music, Experimental music

47
29 38
SAFliper is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
SAFliper added SAFliper Glitch, Noise, Experimental - SAFliper is a Portuguese noise and glitch music composer/ producer

48
5 7
Violent Silence is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
schlurp added Violent Silence Thrash metal, Progressive rock, Art rock

49
5 7
Acid Mothers Gong is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Acid Mothers Gong Noise rock, Musical improvisation, Space rock

50
5 7
Fred Frith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Fred Frith Avant-progressive rock, Experimental rock, Experimental music