Dumaresq has just released his new single “Be Pretty” and to celebrate he’s sent us his favourite modern instrumental tracks! Check out his new single and favourite tracks below. For anyone in Brisbane get along to his single launch at The Bearded Lady on May 3rd.
One of the preeminent aspects of powerful music is connection: conveyance of emotion, of narrative, of thought. Usually, we associate such storytelling with vocal performance, and popular music as no doubt provided us with many amazing lyricists and singers. An often-overlooked form of evocation in contemporary music, however, is instrumental pieces: ones that convey rich imagery through sound alone.
These are a couple of my personal fav instrumental pieces. I’ve excluded what could be termed traditional ‘classical’ music for the sake of brevity.
Brian Eno – ‘An Ending (Ascent)’
I only knew of Eno from his prolific producing credits when I was recommended 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks as a sleep aide. Created for Al Reinert’s documentary For All Mankind and scored to its breathtaking footage of the Apollo moon missions, this essential ambient record is probably the closest musical recreation of weightlessness ever put to tape. ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ is my choice cut from the record. Its floating synths take on the quality of an alien choir, a haunting hymnal paired perfectly with the grandiosity of the astronaut’s journey. It sounds like a soul lozenge.
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
It would be wrong (and kind of redundant) to pick one of the various ‘pulse’ sections from the 1978 album version of Music for 18 Musicians, and really it is best consumed as one cohesive work. Reich’s piece is a study in restraint. Presciently foreshadowing the rise of repetition in electronic music, MF18M beats you into submission with its plinking marimbas, staccato pianos, and throbbing clarinets. One of the chief criticisms of minimalism is that its, well, boring. Somehow, Reich’s music manages the difficult combination of being at once completely engrossing, and utterly non-committal. It’s perfect music to score an evening run, a low-lit dinner, or a late-night study sesh. (note: Sufjan Stevens was heavily influenced by this piece in his creation of the absurdly titled “Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I Shake the Dirt from My Sandals as I Run”, which I also recommend)
Jon Hopkins – ‘Light Through the Veins’
Many might recognise the main theme of Hopkins’ piece from Coldplay’s ‘Life in Technicolour/The Escapist’, but be assured that the original artifact stands complete. Probably the singular most beautiful piece of music on this list, Hopkins introduces the main motif and then peppers us for over 9 minutes with a canorous bubbling of drums and ambient drones. When the charging synth lead finally cascades over the crescendo at 5:10, leading us into the piano-lead addendum, Hopkins’ masterful understanding of tension and release is made palpable. Luminous. (Note: there are also some excellent remixes of Hopkins’ piece with Coldplay’s aforementioned efforts on YouTube).
This Will Destroy You – ‘The Mighty Rio Grande’
Other post-rock giants such as Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor could’ve sniped a spot here, but if we’re going for guitar-styled instrumental vibes TWDY wins out. Maybe best recognised for its placements in cinema (it was the theme music for 2011’s Moneyball and scored the escape scene in 2015’s Room) ‘The Mighty Rio Grande’ conveys all the majesty of the real Rio Grande. Aptly cinematic in scope, the piece manages to be both brutal and tasteful in its climax, a feat not easily achieved in the post-rock realm.
M83 – ‘Year One, One UFO’
The rare instrumental piece that leaves an impact in less than 3 ½ minutes, ‘Year One, One UFO’ proves that ‘dance music’ is a relative term. With acoustic guitars that recall John Butler, ratcheting percussion reminiscent of Jonathon Boulet, and incomprehensible yelps in the style of Deerhunter, ‘Year One’ is the soundtrack to a far-future forest-folk jamboree on a distant planet strangely like ours.