Best Instrumentals of 2018

Sometimes you just don’t want vocals. When I’m trying to work, for instance, I enjoy the soothing presence of music in the background but I really don’t need the additional distractions of singers or lyrics.

With that in mind, here, in no particular order, is my pick of ten great instrumental or mostly-instrumental albums I encountered last year. What have I missed? Let me know in the comments…

Adam Holzman – Truth Decay

Reflects his jazz background as well as his involvement with Steven Wilson’s band (several of whom feature amongst the guest musicians). Nine of its eleven tracks are instrumentals. Sophisticated and diverse, with some wonderful electric piano and Moog work from Adam.

Matt Baber – Suite For Piano and Electronics

Elegant, minimalist stuff from Sanguine Hum’s keyboard wizard. The title say it all, really.

Jo Quail – Exsolve

Cello, effects and loop pedal combine to thrilling effect in this intense and haunting album. For the full impact, listen in the dark with headphones 🙂

The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric

Dynamic, exciting, inventive and thoroughly modern guitar music. And the album artwork is fantastic. What’s not to like?

Jean-Michel Jarre – Equinoxe Infinity

The maestro is in good form at the moment. This pays tribute to his revered 1978 sophomore release but also has something new to contribute.

Kalman Filter – Exo-Oceans

Three long-form pieces from The Tangent’s Andy Tillison, drawing on influences as diverse as Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Stravinsky and Miles Davis. The Fierce And The Dead’s Matt Stevens contributes guitar to the first track.

Mark Peters – Innerland

Beautifully sedate and atmospheric guitar-based music from a co-founder of the shoegaze band Engineers. The delightful artwork mimics the visual style of old British Ordnance Survey maps.

Matt Calvert – Typewritten

This has a lovely gentle acoustic vibe – rather different from Matt’s work with Three Trapped Tigers. Matt plays nine different instruments on it!

Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin

Thoroughly excellent piano-based solo debut from iamthemorning’s hugely talented co-founder and composer. Nine of its thirteen tracks are instrumentals.

Sonar – Vortex

Pulsating, hypnotic brilliance from the Swiss instrumentalists, featuring David Torn on electric guitar. One of the best albums, of any kind, to have been released in 2018.

2 thoughts on “Best Instrumentals of 2018

  1. kruekutt

    Appreciate the love for Holzman, Baber, Kolyadin, Kalman Filter and Sonar! I need to check out the new Jarre as well.

    From last year, I’d add Fernando Perdomo’s Out to Sea (Out to Sea 2 is coming out next month) and Soft Machine’s Hidden Details. Also planning to give Stephan Thelen’s new Fractal Guitar a listen later today. And in a jazz fusion vein, check Mobius Strip on Bandcamp; they played one of my favorite sets at Progtoberfest.

    Liked by 1 person


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