Just Shut Up: Recognizing Artists Without Vocals
For many, instrumental artists are difficult to process. After all, the way we know and identify with songs is based on the message it presents and the way the words are used. Lyrics are a great way to help you remember what part of the song you’re listening to as well as how much time is left in the song. Instrumental music can be a challenge to digest because it lacks that identifying factor. There’s still a tone and feel that can be embodied in music without vocals and I feel these groups below do a great job of emphasizing that.
Finding anything from and about Edison was very difficult for me. I first heard Edison live at an Aesop Rock show a few years back. He had this grid that ran about twenty by twenty spaces that he had previously programmed to make whatever sounds he felt they should have. He was full of energy and spoke a little, but not too much in between songs that you wanted him to be quiet. One of the things I found most amusing was that before one song he was telling us what the song was about and he said “I’m surprised no called me out on my bullshit. I could say this song is about anything and there’s no way you could refute it.” I found this hilarious. Edison is perfect for a stroll in the park, if you’re looking to craft some freestyle, or if you just enjoy some good beats.
Depending on what you’re exposed to, you might think that Flairck was a progressive rock band, you might think they were blues, you might think they were a folk band, or you might think they played classical music. That’s because Flairck incorporates all of those qualities in their prolific career. Despite having critical success in their home country, their name is not a household brand in the United States. In fact, I’m the only person I know who has ever heard of them. I found that their music works well when I’m cleaning or just for some interesting background. There are plenty of records to choose from as they’ve been releasing music since 1978.
In a world where electronic music is dominated by dubstep, The Glitch Mob stands out as an authentic and ambitious group. Quickly rising in popularity, they found their debut album peaking at #57 on the Billboard charts and their followup (featured above) peaking at #13. Their music could be featured in nearly any video game or action film. It has a lot of intensity and some fast-paced moments while keeping a focus on making things sound beautiful. The Glitch Mob is the real deal.
I saw Pelican perform in 2005 as the band that played right before Opeth’s set. This was back when a lot of the concerts I was seeing featured music that didn’t quite fit together. I saw some guys in flannel shirts and tight jeans and was expecting an emo nightmare. One guy got on the microphone and said “We’re Pelican, from Chicago.” For 44 minutes, they played four songs. They did not speak the entire set until the very end and he said “Thanks. Here’s Opeth.” I was completely blown away by their sound. It was a very sludgey, post-metal sound with some doom elements thrown in. The song above is twenty minutes long and it didn’t disappoint me in the least.
There are certainly many reasons to celebrate Jeff Loomis. Simply put, he is the one of the best guitarists to ever play. At 16, he won the Guitar Wars contest in Wisconsin. He auditioned for Megadeth in 1987 at the same age, where Dave Mustaine told him that he was very, very good, but his age was hindering his ability to play professionally. He finally found a spot in Sanctuary, which transformed into Nevermore in 1991 when they were pressured by the Seattle music scene to play grunge. Nevermore found itself conflicted, though, as the lead singer and Jeff had differences in how they wanted to perform music. Jeff Loomis has since formed Conquering Dystopia and joined Arch Enemy. I had the pleasure of seeing Jeff Loomis perform solo in 2013 at a Soilwork concert. When you watch someone like Jeff play, you can’t help but just fall into this trance.
These are all great choices, depending on your mood. Sometimes I like to write and I find that lyrical content can distract me from what I’m trying to accomplish. These are all great artists to help increase my creativity during those sessions. Whatever your motivation is, I’m sure you’ll find something worth your time in this piece.