The Jukebox: Instrumentals

Welcome to The Jukebox, your Friday fix of the best music new and old. Each week, a six-strong panel of Hercules Moments contributors will recommend their favourite tracks for you to soundtrack your weekend to, in a playlist centred around a chosen theme.


Tyondai Braxton - Raise Yr Arms and Cross Them
Perhaps better known as the frontman of Battles, Tyondai Braxton is a composer and performer in his own right. To me, this is the standout track, in the much more minimalist surroundings of 2002's History That Has No Effect. Always one to appreciate a bit of guitar pedal trickery, this track provides so many "how on earth...?" moments. Feedback knobs set to the right on delay pedals, this track has the potential for an out-and-out noise meltdown, but remains controlled, the squalls of delay taking a backseat to the swell of lush cello and the crashing, repetitive drum sequence. A wonderfully tense and brooding track.
Claire Harkins

Explosions in the Sky - The Birth and Death of the Day
This is a great instrumental piece - it is emotive and descriptive without the use of lyrics. The song begins with a crash of cymbals and a crescendo of wailing guitars, is followed by a calm and gentle piece, conceived by the band’s three guitars harmoniously plucking at major chords. The third movement is introduced by the songs main hook, which is isolated to begin with. You can sense all hell is about break loose and you sense that this represents the start of something new. The final part of the song brings about another calm; he music becomes more sporadic and less frenzied. It takes a particular talent to make music this descriptive, let alone without the conventional tool of a vocalist. This is why this is a necessary choice on our instrumental jukebox.
Dallas James

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Hanuman
Such pure, raw talent. Just look at them go. I don't think I need to say anything else here.
Siobhan Hewison

Herbie Hancock - Chameleon
One of the finest pieces of 'instrumental' music ever created and indeed an album that redefined music entirely. If you've never heard Herbie Hancock feast your lugs round 15 minutes of pure genius. Chameleon is the first of the 4 tracks on this seminal slice of jazz funk showboating, and it's a powerhouse. Not only one of the finest synth parts ever laid down but it features some outstanding solo work right through the track, and it's almost too damn funky. 
David Officer

Miles Davis - Move

A track showing just how awesome a good jazz track can be. This song blends together the supreme musicianship and technical prowess of some of the best the jazz world has had to offer with the songwriting and arranging skills needed to put together not only a coherent piece showing off the best of all nine players in the band at the time, but one that still has the necessary hook and musical sensibilities to get it seated firmly in your head for the foreseeable future. 

To many jazz may be a world of endless noodling and showing off (and I find little to argue with - much of it is just that) but I think this track still shows off what made Miles Davis and his band such a groundbreaking and popular act back in their day, and why they are still popular now so many years later. 
David Lovie

Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring

Porcupine Tree used to be a main staple of my revision music just because of how easy it is to relax and listen to them while you work. Nil Recurring wouldn't work in that situation, though. It's a song you should actually sit and listen to - a few seconds in you'll want to. It's dynamic enough to keep you paying attention, with fantastic changes in direction that don't cause the song to feel like it's getting off track.

Jareth Wolfe

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