An article by The Silent Ballet Staff

30. Because of Ghosts
- Dreaming is Essential

Just like an actual sleep cycle, Dreaming is Essential begins with sparse notes and slowly pulled melodies. Because of Ghosts has never been an impatient band, and true to form, the song's development is utterly breathtaking and painstakingly controlled. The track progresses, gradually inviting more activity until the players are involved in a fury of sounds and auxiliary instrumentation that deliver a cathartic punch without blowing out the amps. It takes a creative bunch of musicians to sidestep both the cinematic and epic cliches that plague instrumental music and still leave the listener feeling satisfied; Because of Ghosts is one such band, exploring the depths of their sonic landscape and cultivating a close relationship with their instruments and one another. In a word, Dreaming is Essential is all about synergy. (Lee Whitefield)

29. Gifts from Enola
- Still Walks the Streets

Gifts from Enola have been flirting with the idea of trading in their post-rock smocks and transforming into a hyper-energetic electro-rock outfit since the early days of Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind. Still Walks the Streets is the latest juncture in this timeline; the track opens with an electronic percussion sequence and segues into an explosion of searing guitars that put a new meaning on the word 'unrelenting'. The face-smashing, mind-shredding assault cements GFE as an instrumental rock force to be reckoned with, but deeper within the layers hides a backwash of electronic goodness just waiting for the chance to take the spotlight. This young band is only getting better with age, and we can be sure that their best days are still ahead of them.(Jordan Volz)

28. Takahiro Kido
- Smile-Spotter Chronicle

It appears that many contemporary classical musicians are happy to borrow from their forefathers, but also generally lack the grandiose scope of these composers. Takahiro Kido is not one such musician, as Smile-Spotter Chronicle illustrates. What we get instead is an ambitious track that reaches for the stars and delightfully entertains with a network of ambience, piano, and strings. Repetition isn't used as a tool of minimalism, but rather to provide a context for proper juxtaposition. The swells aren't aggressive, but playfully entice us to contemplate the greater symbolism in Fleursy Music. (Lee Whitefield)

27. The Evpatoria Report - Eighteen Robins Road
After a quiet few years, The Evpatoria Report stormed back into the collective post-rock conscience with a track of epic proportions, Eighteen Robins Road. Not content to merely rival their stellar works from Golevka, the Swiss quintet have refined their sound to produce a crushing seventeen-minute masterpiece. With this multi-layered, string- and synth-infused crescendo-fest, The Evpatoria Report provide stunning proof that there is indeed life after GY!BE. (Richard White)

- The Sound of Titans
The Sound of Titans is a slowly building track, repeating a theme until it gathers steam, only to let it all out so it can build again. At the center of each cycle is the echo of a guitar and the immediate punch of drums, two instruments that sound like they could be miles away from each other, yet are still playing together. The sound is true to the scope of the Titans' reach, and also to the's moniker; it sounds desolate and barren, like a desert, even as the band's passion tries to force something to grow. (Lee Stablein)

25. My Education
- Arch
The epic climax. Every great post-rock song has to have one. Well, this is one for the ages. But let’s back up for a second: no climax can work without a build-up. Where other bands tend to treat this territory as a musical placeholder, My Education display stunning cognizance of how to work their way from simple beginnings (with violins!) to explosive finales. And when that crescendo finally reaches its peak, the cathartic release of musical energy, you know that Arch is really something special. Moreover, it just keeps going. Just when the song seems to be finished, they whip out another two minutes of solid excellence. (Tom Butcher)

24. Troubles - My Yeshiva

Fan favorite Troubles delivered one of the year’s finest records with Wolf, and the ultimate track, My Yeshiva, is a perfect example of traditional post-rock gone right, combining influences from the entire spectrum of the genre’s history into one astoundingly cinematic and breathtaking track. This band has become so cohesive, so utterly perfect together, that My Yeshiva drips with more unity and focus of artistic vision than bands ten years Troubles’ senior. I can’t help but be reminded of the legendary Tortoise, another inescapably “in sync” instrumental act, and with tracks like My Yeshiva in their arsenal, it would not be out of line to say that Troubles may one day reach those lofty heights of post-rock infamy. But until then, we have this track. And for me, that’s more than enough. (Jack Britton)

23. Sleepmakeswaves
- One Day You Will Teach Me to Let Go of My Fears

For two years, fans of Sydney quartet sleepmakeswaves had been luxuriating in the melodic post-rock passages of demo highlight, One Day You Will Teach Me to Let Go of My Fears. Then, in 2008, the band released a mini-album and made a good thing even better, substituting violin for guitar in the song’s central passage. The result: a post-rock song that sticks in the head like an instrumental earworm. Kudos to the band for daring to tamper with their signature theme, and succeeding. (Richard Allen)

22. Sigur Rós
- Festival

I like to keep my Sigur Rós gloomy, so the band's recent venture into what I call "Efterklang-land" was a bit unwelcome. But Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust has its surprises yet, particularly in the track Festival. Here we're treated to a mouthful of Von-era depressing gloom coupled with some Jón Þór Birgisson vocals that makes me want to tear out my heart in agony. However, Sigur Rós can't stay tortured forever, and as the title might suggest, the last few minutes open into a triumphant post-rock climax that brings us right back to ( ). Good things come and go, and I might just have a serious case of nostalgia, but I've always believed it something wasn't broken, then it doesn't need fixing. So let the Parades, errr Festival, continue. (Lee Whitefield)

21. d_rradio
- Lifted

Every once and a while there is a track that is buried in a record that pops out like a bullet out of a gun. d_rradio’s self-titled effort has a hidden gem that is crack in musical form, Lifted. Everything about this song rings happiness and energy, in fact, this is the perfect song to wake up to in the morning. Lifted starts out softly with a nice little piece from a piano that is quickly accompanied by some strings. These two flirt around for a while until there is an explosion of energy that forces the listener to take notice. It is simply irresistible. (Erich Mesiter)

20. Mogwai - I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead

In the 21st century, Mogwai has been best not as the rebellious, punk rock descending post-rockers bent on breaking down genre barriers, but rather as the calm and collected aging space cadets that have long since transcended them. The Hawk is Howling will inevitably go down as some kind of an identity crisis for the seminal act, but for a good seven minutes, the audience is convinced that it is listening to the band's latest masterpiece. I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead walks the line of perfection without falter in a way that only a band as decorated as Mogwai could achieve, and with absolutely no concern paid to their past, they readily blast off into the stratosphere. This is a wonderful and natural place for them to be. (Lee Whitefield)

19. The Drift
- Golden Sands

The Drift have a formula and they stick to it: dub grooves, propulsive jazz drumming, sublimely understated, Tortoise-esque guitars, and gentle, lyrical trumpet over the top. It’s never less than classy, but when it really takes off, as it does on this nine-minute beauty, it is completely enveloping. Words like “shimmering” and “radiant” get tossed around too lightly when describing post-rock, but Golden Sands earns them, especially in its gently towering second half. Yet for all that, it never feels escapist or transcendent -- it stays grounded and earthy, a soundtrack for here-and-now-ness.(Lucas Kane)

18. Guapo - Jeweled Turtle

What the heck is a “jeweled turtle” supposed to be? I imagine something like a sea turtle, but with a big, faceted amethyst or diamond for its shell. Where is it swimming? Through the ocean? Space? My mind? What the heck does it have to do with this robotripping dream of nightmarish strings, leering acoustic guitar, and a rhythm section that isn’t commanding so much as menacing? Details pile up into a frightening maelstrom, then fall away; then everything recombines and comes back in a new form, stronger and more charismatic and sounding like the soundtrack to a bizarro-cult movie about Satanic sacrifice. Except it’s for real and it’s happening to you. Be afraid. (Lucas Kane)

17. Motion Turns it On - Timber!!!
A band acting as lumberjacks: polyrhythmic drumming and an avalanche of guitar riffs and old-school keyboard improvs tear through wood, and as they yell their warning, we can’t help but follow every bit of the seven minute, prog-infused fall of our minds into the musical frenzy of this live recording. Impressive stunts come a dime a dozen, not as mere circus displays, but as one of the most fluid, coherent dialogues of the year, that are, if anything, enticing us to participate by rocking, jumping, or however it is you want to move around. (David Murrieta)

16. Bohren & der Club of Gore - Unkerich
The notorious German doomjazz quartet offers a further rendition of their unmistakable apocalyptic outlook on “Unkerich,” a piece encapsulating the broadening essence of its masterful long player, Dolores. Delivering the band's uncompromising trademark of deathly tempo and thickening atmosphere, the track continues to display Bohren's familiar, sparse, ominous crashes that form the basis of a depressing introspection. The eerie chimes of the vibraphone add another dimension to the established Lynchian repertoire. (Mac Nguyen)

15. Jóhann Jóhannsson
- Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device)

Take a moment to consider the title of this gem from Jóhannsson’s Fordlandia. What would such a propulsion device look like? I’m afraid I can’t answer that, but I’m quite certain that Jóhannsson’s driving, pulsating bass line tells us what such a device would sound like. The propulsive rhythm forms the base of this soon-to-be-classic interplay of modern classical and electro/rock sensibilities, but the magnificent string sections compose the exuberant soul. Through nine minutes the song gradually picks up steam, and every successive second heightens the tension. At once both giddy and brooding, Melodia… represents one of the greatest achievements of the “snowball” approach to composition this year. (Tom Butcher)

14. Bersarin Quartett - Mehr Als Alles Andere

It’s hard to conceive that a single man could come up with something as wonderfully imaginative as Mehr Als Alles Andere. And yet the one mind behind Bersarin Quartett has done it – delivered one of the year’s most captivating yet elusive pieces of instrumental music. Gentle and visual to the bone, the sublime atmosphere the track slowly conjures will surely bewilder and seduce the listener into hearing it again, and again, and again…(Diana Sitaru)

13. Balmorhea - The Summer

Inhabiting the same musical sphere as the likes of Max Richter and Rachel’s, Balmorhea produce music that is equally as evocative and melodic as the aforementioned. It isn’t easy picking a single highlight from Rivers Arms, their second album, but The Summer, with its gentle acoustic guitars, offers up memories of years ago, sitting together out on the farmhouse steps watching the sunset over the golden fields. It isn’t an exercise in cheap nostalgia but an attempt to capture the indefinable moments of life that we never truly appreciated at the time but regret now they are gone. (Jeremy Bye)

12. Earth
- Omens and Portens I: The Driver

This is not what we expect from Earth. Mind-numbingly slow, yes; but it's cleaner than Earth is supposed to be. The dense-ness, the heaviness, the oppressiveness that Earth has long cultivated is still there, but in a new, rarefied form that is cleaner and purer, and with this new breed of drug, Earth tramples the body while expanding the mind. The track expands, naturally, like a flower blooming. It starts out so small, but eventually bursts into a rich, full, colorful thing, whose beauty cannot be denied. (Lee Stablein)

11. New Century Classics
- Congratulate You, Where?

New Century Classics have started a trend by being the first band to appear in our annual Top Tracks list without having a proper release to their name. Congratulate You, Where? was featured on a FDM Records label compilation, and it quickly had several of us singing the band's praises with its infectious blend of guitar melodies and complementary strings. In a genre so clearly dominated by males, noting that two of the five members are females may help to explain the intangible difference in New Century Classic's music. There's a well defined feminine sound emanating from this excellent Polish band, one that few other bands can even begin to mimic.With a full length due out this year, New Century Classics is ready to put Polish post-rock on the map. (Jordan Volz)

10. Beneva Vs. Clark Nova - 88 Kilos of Excrement

After its melancholic opening, the whole tone of Sombunall changes the moment 88 Kilos of Excrement begins. The fractious twinkling opening gives way to deep synth throbs, IDM beats, and glitched up vocals (recalling 65daysofstatic’s Fix The Sky A Little no less) layered over one another in perfect harmony, before strings and distorted drones complete the frenetic finale as it melts away with the twinkles that began the whole affair. 88 Kilos of Excrement captures Sombunall’s essence in a nutshell: emotional, accomplished, and unique. (James Ould)

9. The Abbasi Brothers
- Stacy's Day Parade

They say first impressions are everything, and the Abbasi Brothers seem to know that well. The first track of their first album, fittingly titled Something Like Nostalgia, opens with a symphony of strange sounds, including a successful dial-up connection. A lonely keyboard soon makes its appearance and a drum from outer space follows. With an almost scientific precision, the duo creates a piece so grand and hypnotic that it will become the soundtrack to all your blurred memories, happy ones and ones you would rather forget. (John Kontos)

8 . Svartbag - Black Capricorn

Quick! Name one band that starts an album in a 5/4 time signature! If you can actually come up with one, Bravo. For those who don't know what this even means, Black Capricorn begins as a bizarre creature with intestinal reverb, clicks, and pops from its throat pouch and an ominous horde of electric flies that buzz around its smear of a head. Is that a drum beat you hear in its cave? Indeed, and the shuffle-n-pound that emerges is impressively articulate and DRIVING for a rhythm rarely visited by electronic groups. The song is so darkly delicious and sets the tone for an incredible album. (Nayt Keane)

7. Sgt. - 銀河を壊して発電所を創れ
This isn’t post-rock as you know it. Sure, it has quiet/loud dynamics and a song length that soars into the stratosphere, but there’s something fundamentally different at play here. But don’t be fooled – this song still rocks. Oh how it rocks! (And with a title that translates to “Destroy the Galaxy, Create the Power Plant,” it had better!) There are a few points where it almost seems as though a switch flicks, and Sgt. suddenly bathes us in a torrent of unyielding awesomeness, such as we have never before seen. Above all, there is a sense of unity here which is staggering in a song that waltzes past the sixteen minutes. 銀河を壊して発電所を創れ is among the most jaw-dropping displays of musicality and composition put out this year. (Tom Butcher)

6.Neil on Impression - Barone
2008 had almost ended when Italy’s Neil On Impression surprised fans by releasing a sophomore effort that nearly doubled the playing time of its predecessor without losing any of its appeal. Barone was the unquestioned highlight of the set, and dominated TSB’s Tracks of the Week chart for over a month, re-establishing Neil On Impression as genre luminaries. The best moments: the entry of the strings at 2:02, the guitar assault at 2:43, and the octave shift at 3:50. (Richard Allen)

5. Mountains in the Sky
- Pons

Of the already impressive collection of songs on Mountains In The Sky’s second album, Electron Suite, Pons perhaps achieves the greatest sense of melodic and emotional connectivity with a listener. It’s a cute little compilation of sounds, lovingly arranged into a tightly bound and ultimately catchy song format. It all sounds quite wonderful and romantic -- one man and a room of machines, creating some strange musical interpretation of the world from a mash of the many sounds that have come before. (Marcus Whale)

4. Grails - Take Refuge

Grails continued their album-a-year productive streak in 2008, but they also found time to pop off a hefty EP in between. Do they sleep? From the sound of Take Refuge, the standout jam on the Take Refuge in Clean Living EP, they spend most of their time in a bleary-eyed opium haze, writing soundtracks for unreleased Lynch movies while droning krautrock barely drowns out the over-pierced squatters indulging in a furniture-bonfire-tribal-drumming-party in the backyard. In the tradition of the best tune-in-drop-out music, things don’t crescendo so much as throb into an orchestrated swirl of eastern scales, massive riffs, and funky vamping, and then back out to the long-come down required before leaving the den. (Lucas Kane)

3. This is Your Captain Speaking
- Incirculation

Incirculation is as much a journey as it is a work of art. Like a narrative, it continually evolves, with the trajectory of its arc set forward and never looking back. The Melbourne quartet have proven by this stage that they are the masters of progression with the ability to gradually layer the fluid melodies of three guitars with the utmost meticulousness and patience, delivering a precise whirlwind of emotion and catharsis. Incirculation opens up barriers surpassing that of Storyboard’s Gathering Pieces, despite existing for half its duration, and raises the bar even higher for what we anticipate from TIYCS in the future. (Mac Nguyen)

2. The Samuel Jackson Five - How to Evade Your Obsessive Shadow

Beware – you may learn just how to evade your shadow, but you’ll be followed by this music everywhere instead. In this piece we can hear the dexterity of a band that labels itself as post-rock; here, the genre has been condensed into music that lets things as diverse as pure fun, reason, and emotion live together, accept each other, and ultimately build a strong relationship that can’t be drawn apart, leaving no room for analysis, only synthesis as subjective reconstruction. In other words, this is a significant piece of music that, like our obsessive shadows, reflect (upon) who we are. (David Murrieta)

1. Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start - The Creeping Fear
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Embers is its deconstruction of the quiet-loud form. The album juxtaposes more conventional tracks with songs that tear the form into its constituent parts, shake them up, then reassemble them (see “Get to the Chopper”). In this way, the band is able to analyze why the form works so well, and then they capitalize on this knowledge with the astounding finale, “The Creeping Fear.” The band cuts out the traditional song structure and takes the traditional elements of the quiet-loud track and pushes them to the breaking point – metal elements are replaced by blistering noise, while those parts that are traditionally dominated by shimmering guitar lines are instead ruled by a mournful cello. If track titles could be converted into musical notes, “The Creeping Fear” would be onomatopoetic – that’s how effective this track is. Essential listening for the instrumental enthusiast, don’t leave home without “The Creeping Fear”. (Zach Mills)