An article by The Silent Ballet Staff


Akira Kosemura | It's on Everything
Japan

Someone Good

Kosemura really broke into the instrumental world this year with two great albums. First his collaboration with Haruka Nakamura, and secondly his solo project on Someone Good. In It's On Everything, we see the artist's gift of combining piano and electronics with various samples, keeping things minimal and allowing the different sounds to saturate before discarding them. It's an endearing, understated album which is a tasteful, thoughtful introduction to Kosemura's work. It can only get better from here.
(Jordan Volz)

[Read Our Review]


Alamaailman Vasarat | Maahan

Finland

Wolfgang

Here you will find an energetic, chaotic, and completely insane mixture of klezmer, rock, punk and jazz. You’ll never feel the same way again about cello after hearing it being mutilated by these Finnish freaks! A cello has never sounded so dirty and nasty, combined with large quantities of brass and woodwind, Maahan is so much fun it should be illegal.
(Leanne Simpson)

[Read Our Review]


American Dollar
| Technicolour Sleep

United States

Self-Released

If you listen to the news, you’ve probably heard numerous reports that the american dollar is becoming increasingly weak. Fortunately, this band from New York does not seem to read the Wall Street Journal. There’s a certain something about this duo that makes you want to believe in the US monetary system again. Call it magnificence, call it beauty, call it an expert interposition of keyboards and guitars – call it whatever you want. All I know is that, unlike the bills in my pocket, The American Dollar just keep getting stronger, year after year.
(Tom Butcher)

[Read Our Review]


And So I Watch You From Afar | This is Our Machine and Nothing Can Stop It
Ireland

Self-Released

Being as I am half-Northern Irish, it was particularly exciting to first hear And So I Watch You From Afar’s debut EP – it didn’t take long to realize that the number of decent instrumental acts from my father’s homeland had doubled overnight. As much as it pains me to commit that cardinal post-rock reviewing sin of comparing a band to Explosions In The Sky, it’s virtually impossible to ignore in the case of This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It – yet I mean it in the most flattering sense imaginable. Infused with chiming guitars, uplifting melodies such as “The Voiceless” and “WPB 6am” should be making the Texan quartet shake in their cowboy boots – and for good reason, too.
(Richard White)

[Read Our Review]


Bosques de mi Mente | Trenes de Juguete
Spain

Self-Released

Ambient or minimalist music is not generally associated with interesting dynamics. Bosques de mi Mente plays with the idea of minimalism and adds dynamics reminiscent of Romantic Era compositions. The minimalism of the solo piano allows the dynamics to have plenty of time to swell and recede without worry of other instruments competing for sonic space, and the more complex compositions utilize the combining of textures to create a wall that grows and shrinks and fortifies the dynamic structure. Bosques de la Mente's sound is more cinematic than ambient; Trenes de Juguete is a wonderful example of a ‘softer side of post-rock’ – ‘harder side of ambient’ album to let your mind rest to.
(Greg Norte)

[Read Our Review]


Boy is Fiction | Boy is Fiction

Australia

List Recordings

Boy is Fiction is chill-out music with a spine, a perfect album to relax to, but also rewarding the close listener. Space is used as an instrument of itself, creating emotion and meaning where the clutter of many other electronic releases creates a void. A malleable, ever-changing force, the album amplifies the listener's own pre-existing emotion, rather than forcing an emotion upon the listener, resulting in a unique listening experience each time the disc is given a spin. Allow Boy is Fiction to project his music on to you, and you will not walk away disappointed.
(Zach Mills)

[Read Our Review]


Do Make Say Think
| You, You're a History in Rust

Canada

Constellation

No longer satisfied with the confines of headphones or ivory towers, You, You’re A History in Rust endorses substance through community rather than solitude. From the freak-out guitar crescendo in “Executioner Blast” to a Broken Social Scene reunion sing-along in “A With Living,” Rust embraces the spontaneous present and the people therein—a reunion rager in a battered barn. Whereas in the past DMST focused on minimal whispers (& Yet & Yet) or futuristic experimentation (Enemy Airship), Rust envelops natural sounds like tape squeals and banjo plucking, cultivating a uniquely American feel while bellowing our existence via dual drumbeat blasts towards “The Universe!”
(James Anaipakos)

[Read Our Reviews]


Exploding Star Orchestra
| We Are All From Somewhere Else

United States

Thrill Jockey

When was the last time you heard a jazz big-band that was actually good?  We Are All From Somewhere Else recalls fond memories of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Duke Ellington big band, and others, while channeling influences from free-jazz to film-noir scores to the Chicago experimental scene from which Exploding Star Orchestra draws its members..  Led by cornetist Rob Mazurek, they've put together an entertaining, lively album that knows how to mix it up and get experimental and adventurous without getting totally lost.
(Lucas Kane)

[Read Our Review]


Feedle | Leave Now for Adventure
England

Illicit

The unique rock-infused electronica sound of Leave Now for Adventure is a delight to the ear drums, and is bound to get the body rocking with its very funky grooves. Heavy percussive tones are used exceptionally well throughout the album, and the quieter piece “Go Home! Revolving Piano” is a nice break from the thumping tracks. Although Feedle was once associated with the rowdy boys in 65daysofstatic, he's shown that he won't be living in their shadow.
(Leanne Simpson)

[Read Our Review]


Holy Fuck
| Holy Fuck

Canada

Dependent Records

Gold medallists in tasteful monikers, Holy Fuck are not the type of band to tread softly. Toronto noise-nik cum DIY sound smith alchemists forsake the well trodden path of laptop loops for lo-fi electronica with an improvisational ethos that trips the light fantastic. The follow up to their debut album is a frenzied six track EP of dazzling foot-stompers set to a percussively punchy backbone, jig-sawed from a fusion of organic sounds, synths, and whatever else is at hand. They shun introspective shuffling for dance-floor strobes with neon flare and frisson and creating music that is tech-neurotically intoxicating, chaotically playful, and sonically erratic.
(James Crossan)

[Read Our Review]


Immanu El | They'll Come, They Come
Sweden

AndTheSound Records

While many bands today are frantically trying to combine and completely reinvent several genres in order to win some sort of "underground cred," these young talented Swedes are sitting happy with their innate ability to make traditional post-rock sound infinitely pleasing just by saturating it with intense beauty. They'll Come, They Come is a perfect example of how bands can not only do the same old thing, but without adding any major modifications to the formula and being skilled enough to keep the music interesting and having fantastic compositional skills, they are able to retain the interest of the listener and provide a completely satisfying sonic experience. Throughout the entire album, the listener is left in no doubt as to the true feeling behind the compositions his confidence in the band's abilities never falters. A true emotion-soaked sunset of an album.
(Barry Smethurst)

[Read Our Review]


Josiah Wordsworth
| Blue State

United States

Self-Released

Released early this year, Blue Star welcomes listener into the mad mind of the musical entity that is Josiah Wordsworth. It's difficult to tell if the man behind Wordsworth is crazy or just musically gifted, no matter what the case Blue Star is a refreshing blend of piano rock that piano lovers have been dying for. Piano aided by violin, drums, and others fashion a jazz classical fusion on the dark side of music. One thing is for sure, give a listener any track off Blue Star and there's little doubt they will want to stop jiggling around with glee. While not getting all the attention the album deserved this year, hopefully luck will begin to turn in 2008 as more minds open up to this refreshing musician. We can only hope that Josiah Wordsworth will become one of the quintessential listens for anyone who's moderately interested in post-rock.
(Erich Meister)

[Read Our Review]


Kammerflimmer Kollektief | Jinx
Germany

Staubgold

Through Kammerflimmer Kollektief's career, the band has somehow managed to stay on top of their game and never makes the same album twice. Jinx is no exception to the rule, as Weber and company produce what is perhaps their most bizarre creation yet. This is quite an remarkable feat, as the band's unorthodox sound has inspired a legion of fans and musicians following in their footsteps; despite all the newfound competition, the Kollektief always stays ahead of the pack.
(Jordan Volz)

[Read Our Reviews]


Last Days | These Places are Now Ruins
England

n5md

These Places Are Now Ruins is the black box for the ambient apocalypse; after the rest of experimental music is vaporized and forgotten, Last Days will stick around like cockroaches or old people schooling youngsters on how it went down. Bittersweet in decimation, Ruins masters the tone every post-rock artist tries to capture, that yearning for beauty underneath impending chaos; yet it’s not post-emo or minimal shoegaze or any negative barf churning stereotype of the genre. Sincerity seeps into each movement, the impending panic of “The Whole Town is Against Us” and the creaking hiss over stirring piano keys in “Look After Yourself.” Bittersweet strings counteract cannibalistic drone that withers out into chirping birds—Ruins represents survival against hardship and the will to prevail, both figuratively and literally within a stale genre. Amidst this calamity and waste lies hope and the primal urge to endure, a lasting vitality against the surging static, and as the year approaches its end, I wouldn’t want any other feeling.
(James Anaipakos)

[Read Our Reviews]


Le Chat Blanc Orchestra | Theories sur la Danse
Canada

Thisquietarmy

Eclectic post-rockers turned ambient artists, Le Chat Blanc Orchestra put to bed the idea that ambient side projects are a futile waste of time. Theories sur la Danse is infinitely enjoyable, coming in on the low end of the genre with wave after wave of ambient washes and not much else to cleanse the soul. There's a darkness present that is surprising given the member's previous works in Below the Sea and Destroyalldreamers, but it's pulled off so convincingly among the slowly burning ambience and orchestras of dancing white cats.
(Jordan Volz)

[Read Our Review]


Lichens | Omns
United States

Kranky

Between all his psychedelic side-projects this year, the trippy walkabout Omns remains Lichens most personal and spiritual statement, prolonging the heady mantra of 2005's Psychic Nature of Being with ethereal moans (“Faeries”), layers of drifty vocal distortion (“Vevor of Agassou”) and smoke-oozing guitar drone (“Bune”). Dismissed as neo-new-age-rage-whatever, this is less yoga class music and more “move to Tibet and trip with monks” music. Packaged with a bonus DVD featuring a live performance that offers a different perspective from Lowe on record—electric wails commanding repentance as chirping birds scatter along the baptism riverside—Omns stands out from the rank and file of psych dudes with the personal endorsement of vocal experimentation, a perfect accompaniment for intimate gatherings and midnight rituals.
(James Anaipakos)

[Read Our Review]


MWVM
| Rotations

England

Silber

Just in time for winter, MWVM drops an iceberg of a beast on us, the polished and buffed Rotations. Cinematic in scope while unsatisfied with run-off-the-mill drone, Rotations embarks with centralized intent, a journey rather than an individual collection of knob-twisting ambience. It’s refreshing to hear an album more varied than reverbreverbreverb, with plenty of clashing tones fighting for attention: grinding static, dripping fuzz over electronic hums, “Oratory Clout” encompasses more sounds than entire albums. Ranging from simmering terror (“It’s Easy to Be Miserable”) to glistening surges of crystalline gasps and electric stabs, MWVM is content to let his soundscape unfold until it envelops the listener in a welcomed noise whiteout.
(James Anaipakos)

[Read Our Review]


People for Audio
| The New Ancients

Canada

Storyboard

Those who love their post-rock to be jazzy and folky and in the vein of Do Make Say Think can not do much better than People for Audio's The New Ancients. The quintet's sophomore release rifles though a variety of familiar post-rock styles before getting to the heart of the band's sound, in the process exposing us to some of the most versatile and interesting musicians around. Tasteful inclusion of vocals add the little extra something to the album, but the real spotlight inevitably goes to People for Audio's mastery of their craft.
(Jordan Volz)

[Read Our Review]


Pg.Lost
| Yes I Am

Sweden

Black Star Foundation

Containing one of the most transcendental tracks of the year, Yes I Am got much of the underground talking about this hot new act. The potential is great with this one, as the first two tracks of the EP stop at nothing in order to obliterate all who step in their path. The infectious sounds of "Yes I Am" will hopefully spread to other compositions this quartet cooks up, and soon they'll be fighting for one of the top spots on this list. In the meantime, there's always that repeat button.
(Lee Whitefield)

[Read Our Review]


Roam the Hello Clouds
| Near Misses

Australia

~scape

Melds of jazz and electronica are becoming more common, but more doesn't mean better.  Roam the Hello Clouds pull of something unique with their mixture of Dave Miller's glitchy IDM, Phil Slater's cool, creative soloing, and Laurence Pike's intricate, expressive drumming.  It's intellectual without ever losing a sense of fun or taste.  Equally at home in pounding funk vamps or chill-out territory, Near Misses puts Roam the Hello Clouds on the to-watch list in Australia's experimental scene.
(Lucas Kane)

[Read Our Review]


Romance of Young Tigers
| I Have Supped Full on Horrors

United States

Unlabel

Romance of Young Tigers’ piece, “Long Withdrawing Roar,” was a personal highlight on the third volume of The Silent Ballet compilation series, and so it was pleasing to see the Dayton, Ohio trio fit said piece into the context of I Have Supped Full of Horrors. This impressive debut effort sees ominous, brooding guitar work epitomizing post-rock’s fetish with the instrument’s peripherals, unmolested by percussion which has made it yet ever so expansive, seeping into the drowsy apocalyptic glory invoking equal doses of shoegazing as it does to epic post-rock. The infrequent intervals of noise and rather contained climaxes prove that it can’t be readily fitted into either camp, but these Young Tigers still thrive on the emotional content of both.
(Mac Nguyen)

[Read Our Reviews]


Saddleback | Night Maps
Australia

Preservation

Of all of the albums on this year’s list, Night Maps may just be most inaccessible. This, in a genre known for its inaccessibility, is quite a statement. But, as is so often the case, true magnificence awaits the patient and determined individual who is willing to give Saddleback a shot. This man does things with his found-sounds that will make your head spin and explode in a minimalistic musical orgy. The path may be hard, yes, but the end will be so much more rewarding when you get there. Don’t listen to Night Maps just once and cast it off – there’s so much more to be found just under the surface.
(Tom Butcher)

[Read Our Review]


Tim Hecker
| Norberg, Sweden
United States

room40

Tim Hecker shapes moving compositions through dense computer swells peppered with blurry introspection. Norberg, Sweden represents his career summation, a 20 minute refresher course of why Hecker runs the show, mashing together Harmony’s harsh peaks with Haunt Me’s shimmering fuzz into an amalgamation of immersive drone and static-y ambience. Progressively growing noisier with each release, Hecker pulls the rug from under the listener, starting Norberg with a devolution of shimmering bells into devoid fuzz, a flippant shake-off of his minimal glitch sycophants. It’s a testament to enduring creativity and, along with the re-release of Radio Amor, an appetizer for his new full-length next year.
(James Anaipakos)

[Read Our Review]


Troubles
| Sen'taur
England

Self-Released

Amidst Hope Of The States' coffee cup stains come Troubles with their self released eight track EP in tow, an unassuming yet utterly thought provoking collection that stares into the void. You'll fall in love with the hushed and harmonious mosaic of layered instrumental reflections which lap at the very fringes of the soul. These are audio sketches from an inky haze where hope's frail flicker trembles in the night air, spooky and resounding.
(James Crossan)

[Read Our Review]


Worrytrain
| Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom
United States

Own Records

The brooding and gloriously dark Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom is a mixture of solo piano pieces, string arrangements, and experimental parts. It’s classical music with a sinister edge, interspersed with fragments of white noise that will haunt you for days. The contrast found between many of the tracks is daunting, yet horribly intriguing at the same time.
(Leanne Simpson)

[Read Our Review]

50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-21 |10-1 | Honorable Mentions | Top Tracks | Discuss