Last time when I talked about instrumental music I discovered the German outfits Kombynat Robotron and Shem and did a double feature. Then Tonzonen Records and Echodelick Records sent me these instrumental records and I told myself it was time to do it again, but tripled this time. For instrumental music is a different kind of animal. It leaves something to be filled in at the dots for the listener. And it often invites its audience to dive into their minds, or out, which makes for a completely different listening experience than with their more, ahem, “vocal” brethren…
Der Neue Planet (The new planet in German) are an instrumental stoner prog band that takes full advantage of the fact that they don’t have to bother about stuff like verses or choruses, rhymes, or repetition. Opener Heavy Dream Prog describes their sound quite aptly in a song that shoots back and forth from heavy stoner walls to chilled out dungeon jazz, to stoner disco and everything in between in a near ten minute journey. It’s seriously heavy music, but there is room for tongue in cheek humor too, just like on their album title and cartoonish artwork. Area Fifty-Fun is exactly that; it’s a heavy psychedelic fun trip that rides like an amusement park.
Noorvik are the heavy brothers of this triplet. The music on Hamartia is serious, epic, and leans pretty close to metal at times, from massive doomed out postmetal, to more uptempo riffage and even a couple of blast beat volleys. If you picture a singer like Michael Akerfeldt fronting this band with a good deep grunt they would actually do a pretty good oldschool Opeth/Katatonia crossbreed.
Now, without human voice, the music forces you to use your own imagination for the imagery. The music becomes a painter’s palette picturing vast glacial landscapes, tall and impenetrable mountain ranges, but also peaceful ponds of calmness and serenity. Noorvik are a force of nature, conjuring up the rawness and beauty of our planet quite vividly.
The only non-German band that I will talk about here actually plays the most kraut oriented music of the three, and starts off with a song called Von Graf…but that’s pure coincidence of course. Trigona from Australia does motorik instrumentals like they were born somewhere between the 80s of Neu! and the 90s of bands like Karma To Burn with a sound that holds a pretty good middle ground between the motorik repetition of krautrock and the heaviness of stoner.
The strength of the album is that each song swirls away in a different inner mindset, taking the listener on six completely different trips, but without losing a strong band identity. I like it best when Trigona pumps out a Joy Division bass line, and then completely drives it into outer space with its gravitational reverbing guitar parts. It’s transcendental music, made for levitation and rising above the daily grind. Stuff to aspire to.