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ben carlson: Instrumental (and Mostly Instrumental) Progressive Rock Bands; a Pseduo-comprehensive List

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ben carlson

Instrumental (and Mostly Instrumental) Progressive Rock Bands; a Pseduo-comprehensive List

May 8, 11:59 PM

OK, this is how it is. My music tastes evolve all the time. This is one step in the genealogy of music I like. Progressive instrumental rock. Prog. Prog rock. Art rock. Avant-garde. Psychedelic rock. Or a recent description that I read that fits perfectly: “novel sonic texture.”

You see, I’ve always thought that voices are just another instrument to add to the ensemble. A few people I know really like having singers in the music they listen to. I appreciate good music without singers. I think it’s harder to pull off, and allows you to focus more on the skill of the instrumentalist and the composure of the song, rather than catchy lyrics.

Anyways, here’s a list that I hope to update frequently. Please check these bands out if you’re at all interested, and please suggest some bands that aren’t on here in the comments below, you’ll get credit for your find! I give the band name, a little desc. about my experience with the, and the links where you can listen to their music. I hate MySpace, but it provides some decent grounds to listen to music. (Hopefully sometime soon I’ll get ambitious and add some a pic of each band.)

Have at it.

Found this band a while ago, really sweet music, wish they had more albums.

a silver mt. zion / fly pan am / godspeed you! black emperor
Pretty good artists, I think these three bands are mostly composed of the same people.
A Silver Mt. Zion
Fly Pan Am
Godspeed You! Black Emperor

explosions in the sky
Explosions in the Sky was left off my list on accident for a while, but they’re here now, so it’s all good. This is definitely one of the best (and probably more well-known) bands, and definitely worth a listen.
Explosions in the Sky

Kind of a more mellow-y sound, good music to chill to.

Probably one of the more well known in the genre (I think).

This is probably the band that got me into this genre of music. Still really dig all their stuff, they’re just awesome. Well worth a listen.

red sparowes
Second one after Pelican who I really got in to. Guitar players from Isis and Neurosis.
Red Sparowes

years of rice and salt
I don’t quite remember how I heard about this band, but either way I found them or they found me on Twitter (that’s another article, Twitter’s pretty powerful…) and have a free downloadable EP so I figured I’d check them out. Definitely worth it, and eagerly awaiting a full length!
Years of Rice and Salt

russian circles
Friend introduced me to this band just after I had started listening to Pelican and Red Sparowes. Very good.
Russian Circles

stars of the lid
Just started listening to these guys. Not sure if they will make it in to my regular listening group (a little slow / mood-music-y), but pretty good.
Stars of the Lid

I actually found out about this band when searching for the source of a sample in a Mouth of the Architect’s track, because apparently Maybeshewill has a song that has the same (but extended) sample in it! I think Maybeshewill did it first (in the song Not for Want of Trying), but oh well. This band’s a little harder than Mouth of the Architect, but both are excellent!

this will destroy you
Good (fairly mellow, despite the name) stuff.
This Will Destroy You

Then some where there’s probably some more singing, but still awesome:

Love this guy’s voice, the rhythm of the songs really drive in my opinion. Another Chicago band (like Russian Circles).

mouth of the architect
The song Hate & Heartache starts out with a sample of some movie or something, haven’t quite figured it out, but it’s a pretty powerful message that turns into an awesome song!
Mouth of the Architect

old man gloom
Some of this stuff is a bit more metal-esque, but not all. Love how he has an album titled Christmas.
Old Man Gloom

porcupine tree
Another pillar of the genre I think, awesome stuff. 4 Chords to Make a Million might be one of their more “poppy” songs (I’d guess, dunno), but an awesome song none the less.
Porcupine Tree

Along with Pelican and Red Sparowes, this has to be one of my favorite bands currently (my all-time favorite is Clutch, though not really this type of genre…). Really good singing and music all around.

Pretty high up there on my list too. Absent off of the Galilean Satellites album is probably one of my favorite songs of theirs (love the part at 3:10 into the song).


Rick F. said:

My favorite instrumental band of all time is:

Other good ones:
Apocalyptica (listen to path)
Beef Terminal (reminds me of Philip Glass)
Do Make Say Think
El Ten Eleven

Ben Carlson said:

Hey Rick, thanks for the suggestions. Yeah, reason I forgot Explosions in the Sky is because I’m currently re-tagging all my music and hadn’t gotten to them yet. Whoops! Definitely adding them, and I’ll check out those other bands I haven’t heard of! Thanks.

jatin said:

thx for the post ben, but u missed out on a couple of bands like vinnie moore and dave weinner …

Kevin Breuner said:

Great list! Don’t forget Mogwai. If you hadn’t heard their music, I would definitely give it a listen. There was some bands on your list I hadn’t heard yet, so I’ll have to look them up! We featured a bunch of Instrumental Post Rock albums on the latest edition of the CD Baby Music Discovery Podcast that can be found here ->

Ben Carlson said:

Thanks for the notes Kevin. I have listened to Mogwai before but I think I remember dismissing them for some reason. I will have to check them out again, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood when I heard them.

wxb499 said:

Great list but there is no way you can miss out mogwai as they are key to this genre. If you weren’t in the mood last time make sure you are in one the next!!

Kirk Alberts said:

A few other great bands to fit in this genre

Omega Massif. Hails from from Germany A must listen. Very moody with lots of heavy crunch

Souvenir’s Young America

Jakob. This band must be added to this list. A brilliant 3 piece from New Zealand. They’ve been doing the instrument post rock long before anyone had heard of the post rock thing

If you can find the Isis and Aereogramme collaboration relased by In the Fishtank it’s must have but hard to find