No dumb words
We’re living in boom times, folks.
Okay, so the economy is utterly devastated and the corporate-politico-industrial complex is completely dysfunctional and our soot-encrusted planet is basically slow-roasting the remaining acres of arable cropland.
But still, boom times.
And by boom times, I mean boom times for a certain vein of indie instrumental electronic music. These tracks won’t save the world. But many of them make for an appropriate soundtrack for the world remaining unsaved.
See, I like to listen to music while I write. And when I’m writing, music with lyrics is just distracting. Thankfully, a solid crop of new(ish) artists are doing interesting things instrumentally without ruining things with dumb words.
Below, I share a handful of my favorite instrumental tunes I dig for listening and writing. I guess some of it is maybe “witch house” or “chillwave” or “dub step.” I’m sure someone will say these genres are already dead or passé or whatever. That doesn’t matter. Maybe the next new thing sucks. So check out the latest newish things I’ve been hearing and maybe there are some things here you haven’t already made up your mind about. Imagine!
1. Glitch Mob – “Fortune Days” (from Drink the Sea)
A solid track, heavy and rhythmic like a phalanx of robots marching to conquer the Alps.
2. Gatekeeper – “Giza” (from Giza)
Big beats + John Carpenter-esque fight scene music = Gatekeeper’s best.
3. Holy Other – “Yr Love” (from With U)
I can’t get enough of what this guy releases. Chill, kinda romantic but also kinda creepy. Way to use sampled voices in a way that doesn’t suck.
4. Com Truise – “Open” (from In Decay)
Get past the cheeky name and enjoy some of the most interesting 80’s-style instrumental grooves this side of a pair of mirror shades. Some of this stuff is hit or miss, but this track (and several others on this album) definitely makes the hit category.
5. Imminent – “Seracs” (from Cask Strength)
The noisiest and most “industrial” track on this list, Seracs starts a bit twitchy and grows into something brutally mechanical. Believe it or not, this is one of Imminent’s track that comes closest to having a melody.
6. Umberto – “Night Stalking” (from Prophesy of the Black Widow)
Synthy and spooky like a soundtrack Euro-zombie flick from the ‘80s, Umberto comes off both tongue-in-cheek and virtuosic. It’s the ideal car music for a drive on a foggy night.
7. Kavinsky – “Testarossa Autodrive (from Teddy Boy)
I’m a sucker for old school laser disco. Kavinsky revives the retro-futuristic Eurodance style with an angular ferocity unheard in classic tracks.
8. Zomby – “Mozaik” (from Dedication)
Hypnotic, minimalist, and spacey, this track is my favorite among Zomby’s atmospheric, dub-ish tunes.
9. Belbury Poly – “Remember Tomorrow” (from From an Ancient Star)
Belbury Poly’s best work sounds like synth music for a magical adventure, circa 1971 (though this album only just came out last year). I don’t know about you, but it gives me the urge to light a candle, pour a mug of grog, and crack open something by Tolkein (or maybe Terry Pratchett).
10. Gridlock – “Atomontage” (from Formless)
Having been out for nearly 10 years, anything by the now-disbanded Gridlock is by no means new. But seriously, this album is a masterpiece of instrumental electronic music. Nothing else out there comes close. And this track, with its slow build up to an eventual monstrous drop into chattering, churning mechanical beats and ethereal voices merging into strings, cannot in good conscience be left off any list like this.
Of course, this list is by no means complete. Did I leave off one of your favorite instrumental artists or tracks off the list? If so, it’s probably because I don’t know it exists. Make me know it exists; post an awesome instrumental track in the comments.
Rick Claypool is a writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently he is working on a dystopian novel featuring giant predatory invertebrates, political dissidents disguised as robots, and mushroom-loving mutants. His writing has appeared in the Toledo City Paper, the New Yinzer, and the Allegheny Review. For more about Rick, visit www.rickclaypool.org.