~An article by The Silent Ballet Staff

It is with much joy that The Silent Ballet present "The Top 25 instrumental tracks of 2006." The list was compiled by the staff, with commentary by Richard White, Jordan Volz, and Jerome Holeyman. For your reading, and listening pleasure...

25) The Workhouse – Boxing Day
The Workhouse's Wiki Page

Boxing Day represents everything that is right about music today, from the patient build-up to the blooming explosion that leaves you yearning for more.  This song is a firestorm of sonic beauty. -Jerome Holeyman




24) Sweek – IKI
Sweek's Wiki Page

"Iki"'s heart-warming introduction demonstrates exactly how Sweek has lifted themselves to the top of the post-rock world. This slow, brooding introduction would surely continue ad nauseum with other instrumental acts, but Sweek deftly navigates through a variety of compositions and by the 3:30 mark they've disposed of their first vessel. The song does reach the genre's trademark climax, but the route which they take to get there is all their own. -Jordan Volz

23) These Monsters – Nice Day To Start A War
These Monsters's Wiki Page

Sickoakes aren’t the only band to successfully integrate saxophone into a post-rock setting, if this offering from UK-based These Monsters’ eponymous debut is anything to go by. Upbeat sounding, with a hint of jazz and some crushing guitar lines, "Nice Day To Start A War" may very well be a sign that the band are on their way to greater things. Certainly one to watch for the future. -Richard White


22) We vs Death – (Yes!) We Went To Novgorod
We Vs Death's Wiki Page

We vs Death's "(Yes!) We Went to Novgorod" is a nostalgic piece with a strong bass line and a dizzing drum work. A rather smooth introduction leads straight into the brass, where it happily meanders along with the guitars until they throw it back to the beginning and slide out of the track as smoothly as they came. "(Yes!) We Went to Novgorod" is the epitome of We vs Death's album, which doesn't berrate the listener with a heavy-handed climaxes, and apocalyptic themes. This is just good tunes for good times. -Jordan Volz

21) Jakob – Safety In Numbers
Jakob's Wiki Page

Taken from Solace, Jakob's third album, "Safety In Numbers" is a prime example of Jakob doing what they do best – creating ambient yet metal-tinged soundscapes which succeed in absorbing the listener completely. This could easily be an aural representation of a journey through the stunning landscapes of the band’s New Zealand homeland. Next time you’re watching ‘Lord Of The Rings,’ turn down the volume on the TV, put Jakob on the CD player and you’ll see what I mean. -Richard White

20) Gifts From Enola – Behind Curtains Closing
Gifts From Enola's Wiki Page

The opening track to Gifts From Enola’s much-lauded debut album Loyal Eyes Betrayed The Minds, "Behind Curtains Closing" will undoubtedly have post-rock purists salivating. An ostensibly innocuous intro suddenly gives rise to an almighty, unexpected wall of sound – think "Greet Death" or "Yasmin The Light" by Explosions In The Sky, for instance – which in turn yields to some nifty guitar riffs. The curtains may be closing but with songs like this, Gifts From Enola should see plenty of opportunities opening up for them. -Richard White

19) Natsumen – Newsummerboy
Natsumen's Wiki Page

"Newsummerboy" made us rethink Japanese instrumental rock. It seems just like yesterday we were all sitting out back innocently drinking lemonade and listening to "Mogwai Fear Satan," and then all of a sudden it's 2006, and we don't know where this band came from or why they are here playing such tantilizing music, but we can't object. This is one for people who think you can have too many people simuntaneously playing an isntrument. One taste of "Newsummerboy" and they'll be singing a different tune. -Jordan Volz

18) Max Richter – Sunlight
Max Richter's Wiki Page

Taken from the album Songs From Before, this captivatingly beautiful piece shows just why UK-based composer Max Richter is considered to be at the cutting edge of the neo-classical music scene. "Sunlight" is a simple yet highly effective song infused with mental imagery; to me, the piercing violin rising above the subdued backing strings represents a beam of sunlight shining through darkened clouds. Richter’s music is proof that guitars and effect pedals are merely optional extras when it comes to creating stunning contemporary instrumental works. -Richard White

17) Russian Circles – Carpe
Russian Circles' Wiki Page

Quite how a three-piece can rock as hard as Russian Circles do is beyond me, but "Carpe," the opening track from Enter, proves that they are more than a match for Chicago neighbours Pelican in this respect. Guitar and bass play off against each other as an incredibly catchy riff is carved out before launching into a awesome metal frenzy. The urge to play air guitar to this song really can be too hard to resist. -Richard White


16) Yndi Halda – Illuminate My Heart, My Darling!
Yndi Halda's Wiki Page

I’m making no excuses for including Yndi Halda in a 2006 “best of” list, for this was the year in which they signed a record contract and formally released Enjoy Eternal Bliss EP as a 4-track CD. In the final – not to mention most beautiful – track from the EP, the haunting violin and shimmering guitars intertwine effortlessly to bring ‘Illuminate My Heart, My Darling!’ to an almighty crescendo not even half-way through the 17 and a half minute song, in what is surely the most effective climax since GY!BE’s ‘BBF3.’ Pedants may see the awkward violin screeches near the start of the track as being a sign of technical ineptitude; I take it to be a sign that Yndi are mere mortals like the rest of us. -Richard White

15) The Advantage – Solar Jetman: Braveheart Level
The Advantage's Wiki Page

The Advantage may have spent too much time playing Nintendo when they were children, but now they rock away making homages to those midi tracks that subconciously have been burned into our minds. Solar Jetman might not have been the best NES game, but the soundtrack sure kicked ass. The Advantage keep that tradition strong while plowing through the track at lightspeed. -Jordan Volz


14) Foxhole – Forgiving Monarch
Foxhole's Wiki Page

It's not quite clear which of the tracks off of Push/Pull is the best, as they all vary so much in style and formation, but "Forgiving Monarch" is certainly as good as the rest. The six-minute track displays some wonderful drumming, complementary guitars, and the always brilliant trumpet. The real star is the band's exemplary, yet quite unorthadox, song-writing and emotional content. Foxhole demonstrates that a song doesn't have to break the world in half to tug at the heart, in fact, in doing so many bands sacrifice a grace to their work which Foxhole holds dear. This is innovative music. -Jordan Volz

13) Battles – SZ2
Battles' Wiki Page

Warp's Reissue of Battle's EP C/B EP allows us to re-experience the chaotic wonder of "SZ2." Grudge-filled riffs collide with the ringing electronics that swarm and dominate the track, supplemented by the bouncy keyboard. The Silent Ballet's own Alex Bradshaw has been known to dance away to this tune until his legs loose all feelings and he collapses into a pool of his own vomit. I wouldn't recommend this for the children; Alex is a trained veteran. Nonetheless, this track has us craving more Battles goodness. - Jordan Volz

12) Mono & World’s End Girlfriend – Part 5
Mono's Wiki Page & World End Girlfriends's Wiki Page

When two of the leading lights of the Japanese music world join forces, it seems fairly obvious that something special is in the works. Perhaps no-one was expecting such a neo-classical masterpiece, but ‘Part 5’ (that’s right; together, Mono & World’s End Girlfriend show as much aptitude for naming songs as a ( )-era Sigur Ros) should be reason enough for everyone to rush out and buy a copy of Palmless Prayer/ Mass Murder Refrain. The final and longest song on the album at over 19 minutes, ‘Part 5’ begins with a funereal strings and piano arrangement, with the guitars unnoticeable for the first three minutes and drums appearing a minute and a half later. Slowly but surely, effects pedals come into play to create a prolonged, mournful crescendo. Certainly one of the most majestic songs from one of the finest albums of 2006. -Richard White

11) Clint Mansell – Death Is The Road To Awe
Clint Mansell's Wiki Page

With a bit of help from Mogwai and The Kronos Quartet, Mansell’s soundtrack should inspire instrumental music lovers to flock to see The Fountain, regardless of the quality or content of the film itself. Mogwai’s contribution to the soundtrack is for the most part understated, but in "Death Is The Road To Awe," effects pedals are once more engaged amidst the frantic bowing of the Kronos Quartet, with the song concluding in a cinematic, choral flourish. Presumably this was the sort of music for which the term ‘epic’ was invented. -Richard White

10) Gregor Samsa – Young And Old
Gregor Samsa's Wiki Page

Taken from their long-awaited debut album 55:12, "Young And Old" proves (if ever proof was needed) exactly why Gregor Samsa are one the most talented slowcore/ post-rock/ shoegaze group in the world, ever. The delicate vocals of Nikki King and Champ Bennett take a back seat to some exacting and blissful instrumentation, with a strings-infused crescendo taking the song to a beautiful orchestral plateau of which the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor would undoubtedly be proud. Gorgeous music indeed, and I challenge you not to be smitten. -Richard White

9) Belegost – Nightwalker/Deergod
Belegost's Wiki Page

Belegost’s sole contribution to the split EP with The Sea, Like Lead is an awe-inspiring, 22-minute behemoth of a track. Every bit as dark and disturbing as the name suggests, "Nightwalker/Deergod" will haunt your dreams, yet I can guarantee you’ll come crawling back for more. After a droning intro (during which Belegost seemingly play their homage to Mogwai’s ‘My Father My King’), the three intertwining guitars lay down some terrific metal riffs, which you’ll almost certainly be humming for the next few weeks. -Richard White

8) Magyar Posse – Sudden Death
Magyar Posse's Wiki Page

"Sudden Death" is really the abridged version of Random Avenger, as it takes all the elements that Magyar Posse incorporates so flawlessly in the album and boils it down into a nine minute spectacle. This magnum opus draws influence from the past thirty years of music, taking in 70s progressive rock, 80s new wave, 90s electronica, and then adding a classical touch and a dash of their trademark Finnish sound. We wouldn't quite call it "post-rock" without that splintering finale, and this track certainly delivers the goods. The most marvelous aspect to the song is the simpmlicity of it -- with the exception of the song's introduction and climax, Magyar Posse utilizes very simple layering techniques to give the song a crisp, fresh presentation. Although Random Avenger can be enjoyed soley on its emprical qualities, the band brings the music to new heights with the subtlties that underlie the work. -Jordan Volz

7) Anoice – Liange
Anoice's Wiki Page

Fortunately, Anoice’s best song is one of the minority on Remmings that actually has a title. On the surface, you might not think that piano and viola could create the most engaging of music, but such is the captivating majesty of "Liange that you wish someone had thought of it sooner. Haunting, minimalist and deeply, deeply moving. -Richard White


6) Hammock - Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop an Echo
Hammocks's Wiki Page

"Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop an Echo" is the most energetic track off of Hammock's sophomore album. Additionally, it's also one of the only tracks the band has created that calls upon male vocals. In that regard, "Raising Your Voice..." isn't the normal track for this duo, but it still packs the efflorescent ambience that they are so well known for. The glory and magic of Hammock is on full display for five minutes, not only displaying the beauty of the band's music but also the stunning craftsmanship of Byrd and Thompson. With tracks like this, it's difficult not to fall in love... -Jordan Volz

5) Sickoakes – Wedding Rings & Bullets In The Same Golden Shrine, Part II
Sickoakes's Wiki Page

The two-part song on Seawards is in fact the third incarnation of this piece of music. Originally recorded in three parts as "Hashima, And A Huge Smile For Mitsubishi Mining Co." and then released to an unsuspecting – yet soon to be awe-filled – general public as single track "Wedding Rings & Bullets In The Same Golden Shrine," the song was vastly revamped and rerecorded for the Swedish band’s long-awaited debut. With plodding guitars taking a tantalisingly convoluted route to the ‘loud part’ – with a bit of help from an accordion, of all instruments – you’ll be on the edge of your seat in anticipation when it finally hits at the 10:35 mark. Sickoakes has every right to be proud of such an uplifting, glorious song. -Richard White

4) The Ascent Of Everest - If I Could Move Mountains (I) Majesty And Awe (II) Collapse Into Understanding (III) Gathered Hearts Rise And Sing At The First Breath of Dawn
The Ascent of Everest's Wiki Page

An impressive way to end a stunning debut release, and by ‘impressive’ I wasn’t just referring to the title of the track. The seven-piece’s influences – most notably A Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor – are evident in this song, but I’d take quality over originality any day of the week. "If I Could Move Mountains" literally has something for everyone, fusing strings, keyboards, highly effective tremolos and strained Efrim-like vocals (which are more effective than those of the ASMZ frontman's own). If the hairs on the back of your neck don’t stand to attention as the crescendo kicks in at around the 10:50 mark, then chances are you have no soul. -Richard White

3) Mono – Moonlight
Mono's Wiki Page

The finale to You Are There is quite possibly Mono’s most beautiful song to date. Layer upon layer of mesmerising tremolos, keyboards and strings are laid down until a thunderous crescendo is reached. This truly is a piece of music best appreciated while lying in a darkened room – just don’t be too alarmed if you start hearing ghostly voices at around the 4:47 mark, they are part of the song, although it took me a few plays to work it out! -Richard White

2) Laura – It’s Kind Of Like The Innocent Smiles You Get At The Start Of A Relationship Before You Fuck Everything Up
Laura's Wiki Page

An impressive crop of instrumental bands have emerged from Australia in the past few years, and Laura is right up there with the best of them. This track is the finest offering from their latest album Radio Swan Is Down, and, in typical Laura fashion, it is an intensely powerful affair. As the band proclaim on their myspace, “Laura make noise” – "It’s Kind Of Like…" exemplifies this notion, starting off with delicate, disembodied piano licks and gradually building to a dramatically energetic wall of sound. They may make noise, but this noise is far too exquisite to ignore. -Richard White

1) Mogwai – Friend Of The Night
Mogwai's Wiki Page

With the first single to be taken from Mr. Beast, the Scottish quintet show exactly why they’ve been at the forefront of the post-rock movement for the last 11 years. Their sound has been perpetually evolving and "Friend Of The Night" represents yet another ace up Mogwai’s sleeve. A harmonic-infused intro gives way to a simple yet mesmerising piano riff, accompanied by the waxing and waning of warm fuzzy guitars; this is Mogwai at their spine-tingling, understated best. They may have made a name for themselves courtesy of tinnitus-inducing live shows featuring bone-crushing, ear-splitting epics such as ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ and ‘Like Herod’ (my hearing was still affected six months after seeing them in Glasgow Barrowlands in 1999), but ‘Friend Of The Night’ has also proved to be a crowd-pleaser live, and rightly so. -Richard White

 


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