Monday, June 19, 2006

Pitchfork and Music and Technology

So a little while ago I wrote this on my personal blog:
"An unexpected thing happened today. I geeked out over a Pitchfork article.
Yes those bastards once again proved that whilst I may disagree with them on everything ever, they are rather good. This kind of music tracking/recommending type technology is something that I find ridiculously cool. So, as such I will shortly be trying (and of course, reporting back to you) on a couple of these things - 1. MusicIP Mixer and 2. Audiobaba."

And I did try them. In fact I even got to try the full paid for version of MusicIP thanks to some kind person from their PR department (well, someone from MusicIP who saw my blog and sent me an unlock code). Do not worry. This won't sway my review at all because I really couldn't tell any difference between the paid for and unpaid versions. I mean I'm sure there's some extra features in there but I'm damned if I can find/use them.

Audiobaba has been uninstalled. That is probably the most damning review I can give it but it had to be done. It's not that it did badly at playlisting, more that every time it was started it told me that that 1640 new music files had been added and needed to be synchronised. Which would take 20 hours. This was exceedingly annoying.

Music IP Mixer meanwhile provided equally good playlists (generally conforming to the feel of the starting song if not the mood) and never had to rescan the entire library. And it did it's initial indexing much quicker too. Resultingly, should I ever know that I want to listen to 6 songs that are a bit like The Boy with the Arab Strap, I shall turn to Music IP Mixer. In fact hey, let's do that now and see what playlist we get.

So, I load up Music IP Mixer, search for Belle and Sebastian, right click on Boy with the Arab Strap, select Create Mix and voila...

1. The Boy with the Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian
2. Cigarettes Will Kill You by Ben Lee - Very different mood, more bitter and less bouncey, but similar instrumentation and I certainly wouldn't mind it coming up.
3. Flying Foxes by Moby - I'd guess the piano is the reason this is here. And B&S and and Moby are both inherantly summery.

4. Lovers in a Dangerous TIme by Barenaked Ladies - Similar in mood to Cigarettes Will Kill You, no real instrumental links to the start song. But still very good and not out of place here.
5. Too Young by Phoenix - Definitely as bouncey as Arab Strap, but in a far more dancey way. Goodness knows how Music IP decided that everyone's second favourite French band would fit in here, but they do.
6. Rent a Cop by Ben Folds - My favourite track from the Super D EP (which I recently purchased, review soon) seems a little out of place here. The rhythmic piano give it a tenuous link to the starting point.

I realise that as far as an assessment of how well it works goes, this is useless unless you''re familiar with all those songs.

But still : I probably wouldn't strongly recommend either of these programmes just yet. Give the tech wizards a few more years and perhaps magical playlist generation will be able to give you the perfect song based on mood/location/time of day. Until then, just keep listening to whatever Pitchfork tells you to. I mean, uh... Music you like.

Coming Up this Week: Some reviews of records Miles bought in the last month.

No comments: