Every Noise at Once

  • music

Replying to a very different question on Reddit, a person who appeared to work for Spotify kept referring to Every Noise. Not knowing what it is, I looked up the website. The name seems to be named “Every Noise at Once” and it is presented like a massive word-cloud with musical genres which is ‘clickable’. You can also use the search function. Once you get to a genre, you have the choice between different Spotify playlists: “playlist” (opens “the sound of <genre>”, “intro” (“introduction to <genre>”), “pulse” (“the pulse of”) and “edge” (“the edge of”). I have not yet found out what these “pulse” and “edge” playlists are supposed to be.

Because only ‘official’ Spotify playlists are presented, I had the idea that “Every Noise” is made by (or for) Spotify and it could give an idea of how Spotify connects different artists. The website is made a group called “The Echo Nest” though, who appear to develop software (or algorithms) for (personal) music comparison. Perhaps Spotify buys the technique that they use for their automated playlists and the like.

The website looks fairly corny. It has fixed width and height so you have to scroll if you use another resolution on your screen. It is (like I said) a word-cloud which starts with musical genres. The size of the text defines popularity. When you click on a genre name, music starts to play. When you click on the >> next to the genre name, a new page opens with artists that fall under this category. There you can choose the different Spotify playlists that unfortunately only open in the browser player. I do not immediately see the logic in the tag or artists cloud by the way.

So, would this be the reason that Spotify thinks that Genocide Organ and Death In June are comparative artists? Let us see. Looking for “Genocide Organ” results in the following genres: “power electronics, industrial, martial industrial, neofolk”. Right…
Death In June then: “martial industrial, neofolk, industrial, experimental, industrial rock, grave wave, dark wave, ethereal wave, dark post-punk, experimental”. Allllright…..
That makes three corresponding genres which are not too well tagged. But sure they will know about “noise” or “death industrial”, right? What do we get when we look for Brighter Death Now? Well: “power electronics, industrial, dark ambient, martial industrial”. At least BDN is not tagged “neofolk”, but the “martial industrial” tag eludes me. What exactly is tagged “martial industrial” anyway? Hmmmmm.

Ok, let us look to a bit more popular music. Kerridge, slow and dark techno music. The found categories are: “mandible, minimal dub, outsider house, dub techno”. I never heard of any of these terms, but the “mandible” playlists have nothing that sounds anything like Kerridge, neither do these other genres. Sure, much is also weird techno, but these genres entirely disregard the atmosphere of the music. Listening to such a playlist is like listening to “dark ambient” and suddenly be presented by a project like IRM (which is here only tagged “power electronics” by the way).

Assjack then, the strange Americana and metal band of Hank Williams III: “sludge metal, groove metal, stoner metal, stoner rock, gothic americana, cowpunk, doom metal, alternative metal, deathgrass, psychobilly”. I would have expected something like “outlaw country” here, but only “cowpunk” and “deathgrass” seem to apply to a certain degree, but if that is the case Assjack sounds just like what Hank releases under his own name (so: not metal). How does that help to find a similar artist?

So what to make “Every Noise”? They themselves claim to have over 2400 genres listed so far and the list is growing. There bound to be many that you do not know and there appears to be automatically generated playlists on Spotify for every genre, so indeed, Every Noise could be a way to find new music.
What annoys me a bit is that the interpretation of genres differs from ‘the usual’ (or perhaps more safely: my own). I listened to playlists with “deep filthstep”, “darkstep”, “minimal dubstep” and the like, they they all result in happy sounding, uptempo “drum & bass” like music, while I would expect slow and more gritty music.
And when Manu le Malin or Hellfish are “speedcore”, Thorofon is tagged with nothing but “power electronics”, Wumpscut and PAL are tagged “power noise” (there is nothing like “rhythmic noise” it seems) and the website even manages to connect Wumpscut to Corvus Corax and Goethes Erben, it will be hard to find the fringes of genres that you already know.

And all that while Last.fm has been quite (but of course not perfectly) able to connect artists based on user-assigned-tags, why are people trying to connect artists to try to define genres and come up with terms that even listeners do not understand?

A nice attempt to classify music, but far, far from perfect.

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