Bands/Musicians The Best Experimental Bands/Artists  

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4.8k votes 659 voters 37.8k views 424 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. (424 items)
list ordered by

1
194 68
David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

2
73 63
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
107 98
Björk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Electronic dance music, Jazz, Tribal house

4
62 56
Frank Zappa is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Experimental rock, Heavy metal

5
23 15
The Arcana is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
*DSO* added

Albums: Lemon Freddy Phantom of the Sky (2017)

Tomorrow is Yesterday (2016)

6
33 27
Portishead is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Krautrock, Breakbeat, Folktronica

7
40 35
Scott Walker is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Pop music, Rock music, Merseybeat

8
12 5
Death Grips is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Luke Albright added Alternative hip hop, Experimental hip hop, Industrial hip hop

9
55 52
Swans is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, No wave

10
32 30
Butthole Surfers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Neo-psychedelia

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

12
34 33
The Residents is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

13
12 8
Melisande Mourning is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

14
10 6
Einstürzende Neubauten is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Noise rock, Industrial rock

15
14 11
Samantha Bouquin is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

16
12 9
The Synthetic Dream Foundation is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added Neoclassical Dark Wave, Trip hop, Steampunk

17
12 9
Natasha Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
minamoonstar added

18
21 20
Throbbing Gristle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Dark ambient, Electronic music

19
21 21
J.G. Thirlwell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
VioletaEspejo added

20
17 17
Autechre is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Hip hop music, Minimal techno, Electro

21
35 39
Coil is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Electronic music, Noise music

22
5 3
Bowery Electric is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Downtempo, Shoegazing, Trip hop

23
14 14
Nurse with Wound is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Drone music, Industrial music

24
18 19
Diamanda Galás is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Gothic rock, No wave, Electronic music

25
8 7
Merzbow is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Musique concrète, Noise

26
22 24
Tuxedomoon is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
New Wave, Experimental music, Punk rock

27
21 23
Genesis P-Orridge is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Psychedelia, Psychedelia, Industrial music

28
10 10
Laurie Anderson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Experimental music, Art rock

29
10 10
Current 93 is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Post-industrial music, Neofolk

30
5 4
Boredoms is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Liam Davies added Krautrock, Noise rock, Psychedelia

31
31 36
Psychic TV is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Acid house, Electronic music, Post-industrial music

32
44 52
Animal Collective is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Psychedelic folk, New Weird America, Electronic music

33
7 7
Haruomi Hosono is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
VioletaEspejo added Synthpop, Worldbeat, Rock music

34
7 7
Fred Frith is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Avant-progressive rock, Experimental rock, Experimental music

35
11 12
Blixa Bargeld is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Rock music, Industrial music

36
23 27
David Sylvian is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
DuncanLindsell added New Wave, Electronic music, Classical music

37
6 6
Bill Laswell is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Industrial hip hop, Experimental music, Dub

38
5 5
Squarepusher is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Acid techno, Electronic music, Acid jazz

39
12 14
Marc Ribot is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Electronic music, Experimental music, Alternative rock

40
35 43
Luigi Russolo is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Experimental music, Avant-garde

41
11 13
Trey Spruance is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Avant-progressive rock, Experimental rock, Experimental music

42
30 37
Klaus Nomi is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Synthpop, New Wave, Disco

43
18 22
Steve Lieberman is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
GANGSTARABBI added Garage punk, Outsider music, Heavy metal

44
10 12
Cluster is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Krautrock, Electronic music, Experimental music

45
6 7
Loscil is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Electronic music, Experimental music, Intelligent dance music

46
72 90
Satanicpornocultshop is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
StevøPearce added Dubstep, Electronic music, Ghetto house

47
2 2
Bryn Jones is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Ethnic electronica, Dark ambient, Asian Underground

48
5 6
Estradasphere is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Avant-progressive rock, Experimental rock, Experimental music

49
5 6
Karl Daði Lúðvíksson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Rock music, Experimental music, Alternative rock

50
5 6
Marco Oppedisano is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Experimental Bands/Artists
Electronic music, Experimental music, Electroacoustic music