The Top 50 Instrumental Releases of 2005 (10-1)Posted 01/05/2006 12:57AM by ChaosResolved as Article
50-41 ~ 40-31 ~ 30-21 ~ 20-11 ~ 10-1
The Exquisite Death Of
Often tagged as "Instrumental music for people who don't like instrumental music," New York native Saxon Shore are still able to charm this instrumental enthusiast. The Exquisite Death Of... shows the band giving their best and brightest performance to date. There's little not to like with the sound produced by this quintet as wandering guitar lines find a home amidst a safe haven of electronic sampling and the occasional call of the piano. A moderate amount of ambience is produced as a byproduct of this mixture, which only adds to the overall appeal of the album. Saxon Shore keeps is concise for the most part; only three songs break the five minute mark, and perhaps this is why they are said to appeal to people disenchanted with the post-rock world. The band doesn't mess around with lengthy compositions and ridiculously spacious segues, but instead boils everything down to the core of the music. It's taken the band awhile to get its sound as perfect as it comes across in The Exquisite Death of, but not that it is here, it is quite the wonderful experience.
This Is Your Captain Speaking
Website:This Is Your Captain Speaking
Marking the top Australian release of the year, Storyboard is an exercise in patience. In a time where bands fight over who can be the most epic, and who can write the longest, most intense songs, This is Your Captain Speaking finds little need to be loud. Repetitive guitars force a hypnotic trance on the listener, who quickly succumbs to a dreamlike trance. If This is Your Captain Speaking ever got loud, they might be comparable to a drone band, that's the commitment it has to its craft, but as it is, the band simply crafts beautiful instrumental music that applies a minimal amount of force and just lets the landscape develop through its natural use of the organic sounds they harvest. Storyboard doesn't initially stand out as a knockout album, but every listen impresses just a little bit more than the previous, and in time the full magnificence of this album reveals itself.
While not exactly an "instrumental" band, Sigur Ros is included on this list more due to its direct influence on just about every other instrumental band on the market. Although it has already charmed over most of the music population who would care about its existence, Sigur Ros continues to deliver angelic music with Takk, which sees them in familiar grounds musically, backed by string support and not afraid to borrow from the horn section during cathartic exchanges. Takk is not as patient as its predecessors, as it continually goes for the cathartic releases much earlier than the band has ever dared to, but this shift in presentation doesn't detract from the whole, which is a much more optimistic offering from the band. And for those of us who don't understand a single Icelandic word, the vocals may as well just be another instrument anyway...
You Are the Conductor
The one-two-three punch of "Quovis," "Further Up," and "Further In" from Caspian's You Are the Conductor is perhaps the best eight and a half minutes of music released this year. It's epic, smooth, unrelenting, and breathtaking all at the same time. Caspian sounds like a lot of other bands, but when you try to really put a finger on exactly who they do or don't resemble, it's difficult to ultimately make that decision. It might be most accurately compared to Mogwai meets Isis, minus the vocals, but I'm reluctant to apply that label for fear of ruining the originality of Caspian. Talent excretes from every pore of this band, and by the end of You Are the Conductor, it's easy to see that the band can, and will, do much better than this. Although it is a brilliant release in its own right, You Are the Conductor doesn't quite do justice to the potential of this band, who should find themselves playing with the big guns soon. Anyone who can sit through "Last Rites" and tell me any different is insane.
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And the Battle is Won
Website:Up C Down C
After years of fine-tuning its sound, Up C Down C finally connects with And the Battle is Won (appropriately titled). It's albums such as this that make it truly a joy to partake in the post-rock genre. And the Battle is Won is the result of the last four years of song writing, and the selection of tracks on the album could not be any more diverse. At times you might liken the band to Pelican, and at others to Mono, and still at others you might describe them as a space-rock band. Each song adds it's own unique flavor the to album, and no matter what your preferences may be--quiet, loud, long, short, epic, subtle--Up C Down C has it covered. It looks like all of Up C Down C's hard work is beginning to pay off with And the Battle is Won, which shows a stunning drive in the band. It's difficult to say where the band will embark from here, but they've shown that no matter the direction, they've got a good place to start.
This Will Destroy You
Website:This Will Destroy You
No Top 10 list would be complete without a Texan band. This Will Destroy You branch off a bit from their homegrown roots, where it'd be easy to mimic the likes of their predecessors, and instead steadily marches forward with a two-pronged attack featuring energetic, monolithic build-up and cathartic, placating releases. The organic elements of Young Mountain are highlighted with the violin on tracks like "I Believe in Your Victory" and "There are Some Remedies Worse than the Disease", but This Will Destroy You also explores the cold hand of the machine with electronic samples during "Grandfather Clock." This Will Destroy You doesn't really fit squarely into the existing instrumental scene, but instead has to carve out a niche for themselves out of existing archetypes. However, with the creative forces surrounding this group of musicians, this proves to be a trivial task indeed; Young Mountain is one of the more memorable releases of the year.
Tomorrow We'll Wonder Where This Generation Gets it's Priorities From
They've been called the Swedish Explosions in the Sky, and you can only take such a comparison as flattery. September Malevolence leads a booming Swedish instrumental scene with moody, slightly off-beat post-rock that has a perfect insight into the quiet/loud approach that has dominated the genre over the past few years. Top-notch songwriting sets Tomorrow We'll Wonder... apart from the pack, and it's a skill like that which is an indicator that this band is not a flash in the pan.
Tomorrow We'll Wonder... gets darker than one would expect, but this is complemented well by a gloomy atmosphere that looms over the album. While the dark clouds are briefly cast away throughout the course of the album, it's ultimately a losing battle as the intent of the band becomes clear by the album's conclusion. And with that September Malevolence leaves us craving more.
65 Days of Static
One Time for All Time
Website:65 Days Of Static
Coming back from the critically acclaimed The Fall of Math, 65 Days of Static had no other option but to plow forward in their conquest of the music world with a new album full of erratic electronic instrumental rock. This time around the band embraces a more humanistic aspect to their music and explores the emotional side of its creation, a catatonic hybrid of computer sounds and aggressive instrumentation. While smoothing out the rough edges in the sound presented in The Fall of Math, 65 Days of Static tighten up the routine in One Time for All Time and hone in on perfection. So far it's the only band blazing along this trail, and by the time any copycats care to venture down the same path, 65 Days of Static shall be solidly established as reigning kings of this territory. Oh, and the remixes!
Enjoy Eternal Bliss
Yndi Halda presents a devastatingly rich debut release with Enjoy Eternal Bliss, containing three blistering post-rock tracks that feed the instrumental addiction and push it forward to new heights. A cataclysmic journey is portrayed over the three songs that paint a vivid picture of Yndi Halda--one which takes a holistic approach to their genre and leaves no stone unturned. Every note is intricately selected and scrutinized, and the end results is a beautiful portrait of unfathomable radiance. For a group of five young British lads who haven't even broken into their twenties yet, this is a remarkably, nay, amazing work of art. Some would call this a diamond in the rough, but it's more akin to finding a pin in a New York City sewar--it just doesn't get much better than this. One can only guess where the future will take these up-and-coming superstars, but someone has to pick up the pieces of the post-rock world when the current champions graduate to Depends, right?
Samuel Jackson Five
Website:Samuel Jackson Five
A relatively unknown quintet scores the top album of the year in 2005. Samuel Jackson Five cultivate a jazz-influenced instrumental rock sound that is as smooth as it is furious and as smart as it is wild. Easily Misunderstood keeps the listener guessing; some tracks trudge along with a slow, consistent pace familiar to the post-rock world, whereas others race forward with unforeseen speed and put a dance step in the boots. One thing is certain--the band has fully evolved from their 2004 release and there is no questioning its combined talent. In creating an album that is provocative, fun, and expansionary, Samuel Jackson Five accomplish something that few others have successfully done. This is the hottest instrumental band on the market right now, and as evidence, they took 2005 by storm and claimed it as their own. Watch out for this band in the future, for if Easily Misunderstood is any indication of where it is headed, Samuel Jackson Five is years ahead of the pack.