Top 25 Instrumental Albums of 2012

the-gaslamp-killer-breakthrough-608x608Our criteria for the top instrumental albums this time around fall more in line with the concept of a true LP—which is why some of our favorite artists like Shlohmo, Onra, Ryan Hemsworth, and TNGHT‘s offerings appear on our Best EPS of 2012 rather than this list. Here we have our top 25 instrumental entrees if you will, spearheaded by two of electronic music’s finest and the inimitable Brainfeeder label. There are also strong showings from Detroit, Canada, and Philly, with legendary artist and producer Karriem Riggins leading the way for Detroit with his stellar debut solo album, Alone Together.

Geography aside. From calm, mesmeric collages to stark, feverish synth-laden seances, each album serves as a wordless emotional solvent waiting to be activated by a new listener. We hope you enjoy. x

Note: This list is dedicated to the late Austin Peralta, 10/25/90–11/21/12. RIP.

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13 thoughts on “Top 25 Instrumental Albums of 2012

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  1. That’s awesome you’ve been marinating on the list, and I love your taste/appreciate your feedback. We left out a lot of solid EPs as well as mixtapes/compilations of previous work– otherwise artists like Clams and Skywlkr would have been included no doubt. I also really loved Vanilla Soft Focus, and I’ll be sure to check out Thrupence as I haven’t yet heard that EP. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂 I hope you found something new on the list to explore. x

  2. I’ve been coming back to this list every night to find something new as I unwind my day.
    I’d like to add a few artists and albums that I would have on my top releases

    Thrupence: Voyages EP** Awesome
    Beat Culture: Tokyo Dreamer
    Clams Casino: Instrumental Mixtape 2
    ElyonBeats: Nocturnal Creature
    Mecca:83: D A Y B R E A K & Sketchbook Pieces **Mecca is awesome
    Melodiesinfonie: Ja$$ (nice jazz instrumentals)
    Ryan Hemsworth: Last Words (Heavy)
    Shag: Beats About People
    Vanilla: Soft Focus

  3. Frederick Greene|

    How the hell did Ben Jamin get past me? He’s got some incredible talent.

  4. Good list, and can’t wait to explore some of these sounds. With that said, I wish Daisuke Tanabe and Kidkanevil’s collaborative effort, Kidsuke, had been mentioned.

  5. Great selection of music.. Some old favourites from the last year.. and plenty of new discoveries for me to wrap my ears around, big up!

  6. Great list! I know a lot of people will think there are some albums that are missing from this list but 2012 was a great year for releases and it seems almost impossible to have mentioned all of the great ones

  7. Kinda sad I didn’t see Roku’s Oyasumi here. That’s probably my favorite instrumental album this year.

  8. This is an awesome list. Really glad to see Karriem Riggins in there, that album is so excellent.


  10. AudioSuede|

    It was a hell of a year for instrumental music. I’m a little disappointed not to see Big Cats’ “For My Mother,” Paper Tiger’s “Summer EP” or “Beat Tape,” or Delicate Steve’s “Positive Force” on this list.

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