50 Incredibly Tough Albums for Extreme Listeners

Late last year, we published a pretty epic list of incredibly tough books for extreme readers. Our readers clearly like a challenge, because it drew heaps of discussion, and as such, we thought we’d extend the challenge to other areas of pop culture. First up: music! Here’s a selection of 50 albums that we think make for particularly challenging or difficult listening, because they’re emotionally harrowing, technically demanding, or just plain old make your ears hurt.

Aphex Twin — Drukqs

Richard D. James’ Selected Ambient Works, 85-92 is a bona fide classic, and one of the most visionary and important electronic albums — or any other sort of albums, for that matter — of the 1990s. This later release is a whole lot less accessible, but even on first listen, it presents some moments of startling beauty. It does also present plenty of moments where the casual listener might find themselves asking, “What the actual fuck is this?” Stick with it. It makes sense. I promise.