A question popped up yesterday on Ask Metafilter for recommendations of instrumental rock, pop, electro, whatever “just no vocals” from the past 5 years. Highly recommend checking out the entire thread, but I thought I’d post my own responses here for posterity.
Many of these have been featured here before, but many haven’t. Great stuff to write, edit, or do sysadmin work.
Master Boot Record for “chiptune, synthesized heavy metal & classical symphonic music.” — If you enjoy the Doom / Quake soundtracks, you’ll love this.
The Comet is Coming is spacey, psychedelic jazz rock fusion. Start with “Journey Through the Asteroid Belt.”
The Re-Stoned is instrumental stoner rock.
“Promises” released this year by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra is just amazingly good.
The Olympians feature musicians from The Dap-Kings, El Michels Affair, and others. Great instrumental R&B / Soul music.
Black Sky Giant is instrumental metal / doom / psychedelic / space rock out of Argentina.
Hashshashin has some chanting but I’d still file it under “instrumental” – YMMV. Somewhere at the intersection of prog, psychedelia and drone sounds with some didgeridoo in for good measure.
“Aurorium” by Terra Genesis is chiptune / darkwave goodness.
“Loved to Death” by DANCE WITH THE DEAD is a generous helping of 80s flavored synthwave.
The “Monster Attack” EP by Saymon SixtyHate is also some nice synthwave / retrowave material.
Quixotic’s “Flamingo Drive-In,” is likewise more synthwave and 80s-tinged retrowave. Features Lazerpunk who is also has a generous catalog of darkwave / cyberpunk music. (Some of Lazerpunk’s releases do have vocals.)
“Total Terror” by Cluster Buster is supposed to have a horror movie darkwave / synthwave vibe, but I find it a bit more upbeat than that.
Alex Cuervo / Espectrostatic also works in the horrorwave genre, so if you want the horror movie soundtrack vibe he’s got you covered.
Los Straightjackets are a Lucha Libre mask-wearing instrumental group that largely does instrumental Surf Rock-ish covers of a wide variety of tunes. This includes Beatles covers, Christmas tunes, Nick Lowe tunes, and some originals. (They occasionally collaborate with vocalists for projects but I’d say 80% of their albums / singles are instrumental.)
If that’s not enough surf rock, there’s Surflamingo — a band out of Guadalajara doing some fine instrumental rock.
If you’re in the mood for vaporwave / ethereal / ambient tunes, try out ＶＶＶＸ Ｓｏｆｔｗａｒｅ and Ｓｐｏｒｔ３０００.
Does extreme guitar prowess appeal? Then I’d be remiss not to mention Buckethead, the KFC bucket-wearing, super-prolific guitar genius. When I say prolific, I’m not kidding — he’s released literally hundreds of “Pikes” and albums and most of it is actually quite good.
If you dig the Khruangbin vibe, check out “The Rabbit that Hunts Tigers” by YĪN YĪN.
If These Trees Could Talk is powerful, cinematic post rock. Check out “The Bones of a Dying World.
The Gandaky Tribe label or compilations on Bandcamp have some great Psybient stuff that’s worth checking out if you dig that.
And I know it said last 5 years, but I’d strongly recommend digging through Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble’s respective catalogs if you enjoy bass. Wobble has some albums with vocals but a lot more are instrumental. Laswell works with a huge assortment of folks (including Jah Wobble) under a bunch of names (Material, Method of Defiance, Arcana…) and genres, and almost all of it is instrumental.