Disclaimer: The 25 artists featured on this list categorically transcend the traditional notions of instrumental music– and where boom-bap plays any role, the traditional notions of hip-hop. Despite the ambitious efforts of bloggers and critics, they are also impossible to genrify.
Still, a few things are certain. Most of them have either been compared to or influenced by the still omnipresent J Dilla, in many ways the torchbearer of their sound. They are audiophiles. They know how to handle their varying labs of MPCs, vintage analogue keyboards, drums, guitars, field recordings, and future sounds. They piece together collages of boilerplate basslines, tiding synths, vocal loops, live instruments, and cloudbursts of gasps and sighs that conjure up everything from eternity to robot porn, depending on your mood.
Bottom line: It’s an awesome time for instrumental music. This is our salute to 25 instrumental artists and producers who made it so in 2011. We can’t wait to see what patterns form in the auditory void that is currently 2012. xo
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