The 15 Best Dark and Weird Records of 2011

Is it just us, or do most of the “best albums of 2011” lists this year tend towards a certain amount of sameness? That’s understandable given the undeniable greatness of a handful of records, but on the whole, when we’re facing down a few weeks of holiday stress, travel woes, and inane over-festivity, we’re generally not in the mood to listen to something as milquetoast as Bon Iver. Give us something darker, moodier, bleaker to get us through those days of familial celebration. Something from, say, the record label Blackest Ever Black.

So, both as a holiday coping mechanism and as an alternative to all the best albums lists that have placed that unfortunately boring Real Estate record so near the top, we present an alternate best of 2011, recognizing 15 records that are twisted, dark, and out there. Take note: we’ve purposely left out metal, as that could be its own list entirely.

Pictureplane — Thee Physical

Oh, Pictureplane, what would 2011 have been without you? When we pegged his massively fantastic album Thee Physical as being “gleefully plunderous” of old rave and industrial, we had no idea how much that concept would shape the coming year. Since then, Travis “Pictureplane” Egedy has become a freaky cottage industry, starting a zine, hacking the planet , and writing a dissertation on Psychic TV. Through it all, his musical aesthetic, akin to shoving Enigma’s “Return To Innocence” (a song he actually opened his show with when we saw him live this year) into a dark, desolate hole with Jock Jams Volume 1 and Pretty Hate Machine, has become one of defining sounds of 2011. Sure, his Mishka tights, his gothic cyber-hippie leanings, and his obvious desire to be reincarnated as Genesis P-Orridge have inspired many jokes, but frankly our musical world wouldn’t be the same without Pictureplane.