Denver's Experimental Music Scene Is Exploding — Here Are 56 Reasons Why

Experimental and avant-garde music has been a significant part of the Denver music world since at least the early 1980s, despite a relative lack of attention in the press and certainly little airplay. Today, this city's experimental music scene is far larger than you might expect.

We've pulled together a photographic list of more than fifty artists who're intrinsic to that scene right now. 

This isn't a complete list — nothing close. Rather, it includes foundational artists who continue to regularly perform. Emerging artists who are active and making some of the most innovative music in Colorado are definitely featured; many noteworthy young experimental artists have emerged in the last few years. This list also includes artists who advocate for their peers, whether through booking shows and events — such as Claudia Woodman of Claudzilla, Gabe Temeyosa of Kuxaan Sum, Randall Frazier of Orbit Service and Wesley Davis of Entropic Advance and Bios+a+ic Sounds. Gabe Stoll of Mystic Bummer, in addition to creating forward-thinking electronic music, has put together one of the longest-running experimental music compilations with his Wet Pizza series. Ryan Peru of Mondo Obscura, as well as other video artists, are establishing a developing multi-media aesthetic that makes witnessing even the most abstract music a rich sensory experience.

There are also some notable, and conscious, omissions, incluing an artist key to the development of experimental music in Denver: Dave Licthenberg, aka Little Fyodor. That's because his band today is one of the most punk of punk bands, and you can enjoy his music merely on that level. Other bands like The Inactivists, Voight, Church Fire, Pale Sun, Altas and DéCollage certainly have more than just a leg in the experimental world but also have obvious commercial potential.

Whether you're listening to noise, ambient, avant-garde, experimental electronic, No Wave, immersive sound environment, avant-prog, free improv or even more difficult to classify music, Denver's experimental scene is broad, vibrant and diverse — a scene where visual artists and musicians regularly collaborate and are often one and the same.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.