Bands/Musicians The Best Experimental Bands/Artists  

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4.9k votes 682 voters 38.1k 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
200 70
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

2
19 6
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
111 100
Björk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Electronic dance music, Jazz, Tribal house

4
74 65
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

5
65 57
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Experimental rock, Heavy metal

6
36 30
Butthole Surfers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Neo-psychedelia

7
34 28
Portishead is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Krautrock, Breakbeat, Folktronica

8
41 36
Scott Walker is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Pop music, Rock music, Merseybeat

9
23 17
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
*DSO* added

Albums: Lemon Freddy Phantom of the Sky (2017)

Tomorrow is Yesterday (2016)

10
55 52
Swans is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

11
25 20
Throbbing Gristle is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Dark ambient, Electronic music

12
36 33
The Residents is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

13
12 7
Einstürzende Neubauten is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Noise rock, Industrial rock

14
14 10
Abandoned Toys is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

15
12 8
Melisande Mourning is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

16
17 14
Nurse with Wound is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Drone music, Industrial music

17
13 10
Laurie Anderson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Experimental music, Art rock

18
19 17
Autechre is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Hip hop music, Minimal techno, Electro

19
12 9
Natasha Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

20
25 24
Tuxedomoon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
New Wave, Experimental music, Punk rock

21
10 7
Merzbow is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Musique concrète, Noise

22
22 21
J.G. Thirlwell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
VioletaEspejo added

23
14 12
Samantha Bouquin is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

24
6 3
Bowery Electric is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Downtempo, Shoegazing, Trip hop

25
12 10
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