Russian Circles’ Enter — This post-rock/progressive-metal three-piece from Chicago packed a heavy sound into their debut album, and despite having only six tracks, the album still clocks in at over 40 minutes. Most of the songs begin with a very heavy arrangement that transitions into a lighter middle section and back again. Guitar and bass are heavily layered, which is not the result of good album production but the band’s amazing ability to use loop pedals. Consequently, they can recreate the exact sound of their album live. Key track: “Death Rides a Horse”

The Beastie Boys’ The Mix-Up — Though it’s not the best effort by the B-Boys and not even their best collection of instrumentals, The Mix-Up is still a very good album with a very under-the-radar release. As you might expect, the album is funky like an open hamper with key work coming from MCA on bass. Additional keyboard and percussion work give the album an especially groovy kick. Key track: “The Rat Cage”

Madlib’s The Beat Konducta Vol 1-2: Movie Scenes — Nothing says more about hip-hop producer Madlib’s confidence in his beats than this album. The Beat Konducta is a collection of 35 wholly unique beats that could have easily been fleshed out into full-length tracks. Instead, they are presented here in short one-to-two minute snippets that function as what I can only imagine to be a soundtrack to a film in Madlib’s mind. Key track: “Sir Bang (Bounce)”

Fugazi’s Instrument — Before Pete Wentz left diapers (at least I assume he did), Fugazi was taking punk to another level prior to it eventually becoming the soundtrack to prom night. This album is not entirely instrumental but nevertheless deserves inclusion on this list. Each track takes a simple melody and jams on it, continuously adding new layers of the standard discordant Fugazi sound while retaining the same core. Key track: “Arpeggiator (Demo)”

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