Denver's experimental-music scene has yielded stellar releases in 2016. A complete list of all the bands operating in that realm could be much longer, but here is a primer of ten of the best acts that offered quality recordings that anyone with an ear for the adventurous or unusual should check out. The bands are listed in alphabetical order because, as usual, music is not a competition.
1. Brotherhood of Machines
2016 Album: III Pillars
Bridging EDM, IDM and ambient, Brotherhood of Machines uses hardware to create immersive soundscapes. The project's latest album III Pillars is, as the title suggests, a trilogy of sonic explorations played to accompany dark, gritty, ancient places.
2. Church Fire
2016 Album: Pussy Blood
Church Fire has long skirted the line between intelligent dance music, inflected synth pop and noise. With its latest album, Pussy Blood, the duo has crafted a confrontational album that challenges audiences and inspires them to dance while experiencing the psychic anguish, rage and triumph permeating each song.
3. Echo Beds
2016 Album: New Icons of a Vile Faith
Echo Beds has served as an ambassador for the flood of darkwave and industrial coursing through the American underground. Black in Bluhm Music captured the intensity and devastating rhythms of Echo Beds' live sets on its 2016 album, New Icons of a Vile Faith.
2016 Album: Stay Being
When Holophrase switched up its lineup in 2012, the result was not a refinement of its experimental-rock sound, but rather a transformation into something more adventurous without compromising accessibility. With the band's 2016 album Stay Being, Holophrase has replaced guitar and bass tracks with sampling and loops as the tools driving the composition.
2016 Album: Forgotten Narratives / Faded Covers
John Mulville's February 2016 debut for Sole's Black Box Tapes imprint, Forgotten Narratives, revealed his gift for rendering sonic textures. With Faded Covers, released later in 2016, and its mastering on behalf of Odd Nosdam, formerly of Clouddead, Mulville focused more on atmospheres but retained a fascinating tactile quality in the soundscapes. Using both analog synths and beats, Mulville, aka Paperbark, was able to bring the visceral quality of the former and the infinite variability of the latter together for some of 2016's most interesting ambient music.
Read on for more of the best experimental bands in Denver in 2016.