Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sykonee Surveys Spotify's Senseless Suggestions, Round 4

Spotify’s still sending me suggestions based on my Faithless dalliance, but now The Prodigy too. Hilariously, it’s mostly the same releases as my last round, which only confirms my suspicion that Spotify is sending these recommendations based on U.K. chart dominance. Dammit, Britain, there’s more to music than just your corner of the globe! For the purpose of completion though, here’s the few additional albums listed that aren’t Basement Jaxx and Armand van Helden again:

The Micronauts - Damaging Consent & A Remixes Retrospective
Underworld - Dark & Long
Zombie Nation - Absorber

Again, some good music there, but not in line with the point of my surveys of Spotify’s services. Fortunately, it seems Spotify’s also clued in that I’m not following their BIG UK CHART MUSICS suggestions either, and have mostly tapered them off. So let’s see what sort of general recommendations I’ve been sent this time around. Remember, scores are relative to how obvious a suggestion the album is, with 5/5 being something I’d never have thought existed and 1/5 being what every music rag shoves down my earholes.

James Holden - One For You
Wait, you’re recommending a single to start things off? Well, okay then, I don’t mind hearing some old-school Holden for a start. One For You is McProg long before McProg was even considered a thing (re: Schulz adopted the style for his use/abuse). It’s got a grumbly bassline, spritely bleepy hooks, and floaty vocals …all the tropes that defined the genre in the mid-‘00s, but here in 2001. Damn, was Holden ever ahead of the progressive game, eh? Brancaccio & Aisher provides a tougher ‘dark prog’ remix, for all your John Digweed needs.

Recommendation Rating: 3/5

Chris Zippel - Genuine Horizon Remixes
I follow the link, and Spotify says the album’s not found. How is the first track, Blade (Namito Remix), playing then? I know the player will sometimes stream directly from one’s own library, but I sure don’t have this track. I’m not even familiar with Chris Zippel, though Lord Discogs tells me he’s been around for a while. The music on here does shows some promise in further exploration though, mostly dubby dark prog from a year that would have called this dark tech-house or something stupid (yeah, because my description is equally naff!).

Recommendation Rating: 4/5

System 7 - Classics
Ah dear, another case of being forced to give a low score not based on quality of music, but obviousness of suggestion. System 7 is quite ubiquitous in the world of ethno-fusion, which any algorithm having seen copious amounts of Banco de Gaia should realize I’d have interest of. Matters aren’t helped by going with a ‘classics’ collection, though to be fair, this is a gathering of remixes from Hillage and Giraudy’s ‘90s heyday. Bonus points for that.

Recommendation Rating: 2/5

Khan featuring Julee Cruise - Say Goodbye Remixes
If the name Julee Cruise seems familiar to you, it’s because she’s most famous for providing vocals to Falling; aka: the Twin Peaks theme song. She’s also sung on a couple Hybrid tracks, which is about the only reason I can think of Spotify recommending this to me. Or maybe it just figures I’d be down for the Losoul “She’s Homeless” Mix’s down and deep house vibe, because Lord knows the original is one odd tune. Evil electro bossa-nova, maybe? Whatever it is, I know my life’s one step closer to completion having heard it!

Recommendation Rating: 4/5

Slacker - Start A New Life
Oh hey, I remember Slacker. He had quite a few awesome progressive trance tunes back in the day. Didn’t know he was still producing music. Hm, this is from only a few years ago too. Better check the o’ Lord what else he’s released since- oh. Dear. Geez, that puts the title of this album into an unfortunate dark slant. The music itself is also something of a surprise, with liberal amounts of funk and jazz fusion among hip-hop beats, smooth breakbeats, and indie rock psychedelia. Reminds me of what The Future Sound Of London have been up to in recent years.

Recommendation Rating: 4/5

Hardfloor - The Art Of Acid
I’m pretty certain I’ve played some acid techno at some point in all my Spotify sessions, so that I’d get a suggestion of Hardfloor’s latest album is no surprise at all. I’m honestly more surprised that Hardfloor had another LP out this year, since I didn’t hear much buzz for it (what else is new?). As for this album, it’s Hardfloor doing what they’ve always done: acid techno, sometime funky, sometimes spacey, sometimes peaktime, always tweaking. Don’t ever change, boys.

Recommendation Rating: 2/5

Wally Callerio feat. Delmos Wade - The Love Story EP
Strictly West Coast jazzy deep house, this. Except the second track, I’m In - that one’s got more of an electro funk thing going for it. This is a genre you can cast the tiniest net and trawl up something gold, but it’s always nice when you get something you’ve never heard of before. The only link I can think of Spotify suggesting Wally Callerio is this single’s from Guesthouse Music, who has released music from DJ Sneak and Gene Farris. Not that I recall Spotifying them recently, but maybe I have. Whatever. Good tunes, good find, now stop nitpicking, me.

Recommendation Rating: 4/5

Underground Resisance - Electronic Warfare 2.0 – The Other Side Of Bling
Another album missing from the main Spotify library. Come to think of it, even finding UR on the streaming service seems counter to the aggressive Detroit techno outfit’s manifesto. I guess the gritty underground’s gotta’ get paid somehow, even if it’s in fractions of pennies. While the music is as you’d expect from no-holds barred ghetto funk techno, I’m at a loss as to why this particular release came recommended over all the other UR singles out there. Maybe it really is the only one available on Spotify? I’m too lazy to confirm it right now.

Recommendation Rating: 5/5

überLAB - überwunder
Ah, here we go. Something I’ve heard absolutely nothing about, by an artist even Lord Discogs has scant information about, in a style of music that doesn’t get much attention because of its mish-mashy nature. Is it ambient techno? Glitch? J-Pop? Ah, just call it IDM, works for everyone else. It’s fun, charming, whimsical, super-nice, and all that good stuff. Rare too, I suppose, but only because of those darned limited CD runs. So it goes.

Recommendation Rating: 5/5

Kraftwerk - Aerodynamik
Oh, these guys. Yeah, if you’re listening to electronic music, gotta’ get in the most influential German act to come out of, erm, Germany. This was the lead single to Tour De France, their first new music in twenty-five years, and a pretty big deal at the time. The two remixes here go for the tougher electro techno touch and a prog-tech rub(!?), because why not. It’s a solid enough tune for Kraftwerk, but hardly as definitive as their early stuff. What is, though?

Recommendation Rating: 3/5

Lamb - Butterfly Effect
After helping define trip-hop in the ‘90s, Lamb went silent for a while, following their muses elsewhere. Then the allure of reunion festival tours was too tempting to resist, thus Andrew Barlow and Louise Rhodes joined forces again. This was one of the lead singles from their comeback album 5. The track itself is Lamb being as Lamb as they usually are, but the remixes are clearly on the pulse of the new London urban scene (future garage, dubstep …indie rock?). Frankly, I’ve had difficulty getting my vibe on to Lamb’s brand of music, and this is no different.

Recommendation Rating: 3/5

Whew, there’s more, but I think eleven suggestions are enough for now. Out of all these musics, we come to a finally tally of 39/55, the best score yet! Even with such a small sample size to work with, I’d say Spotify’s getting better at its recommendations. I may have to change the process (not to mention the title) yet again when I do another round, keep challenging whatever AI is driving this improving algorithm, but for now I’d say whatever it’s doing is working.

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