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December 10, 2017 2:12 PM   Subscribe

"[Songs from the Edges] is a playlist of this week's top 100 or so fan discoveries from the 1500+ microgenres I help track at Spotify. Some of the styles you will know, some you won't. Some you won't like. Some may make you lunge towards the Skip button after 4 seconds. But see if you can keep yourself from hitting it quite yet. That song may sound weird, but there's a group of people somewhere for whom it's the most exciting thing happening right now. Maybe they have a point. "

Glenn McDonald (previously) maintains a site called Every Noise at Once (previously), which maps out the microgenres that Spotify uses to track its music. It's gotten better lately.

Each genre link shows a soundcloud of some of the most characteristic artists in the genre, plus snippets of the map showing its nearest neighbors and its exact antipodes. Listen to the Sound, the Pulse (current fan favorites), and the Edge (up-and-coming tracks that fans of the genre listen to) of the bigger genres as Spotify playlists.

Songs from the Edges curates one hundred songs from the Edges of some of the microgenres each week. This week it features chill Korean hip-hop, bouncy Italian indie rock, and Jason Molina of Songs:Ohia covering Black Sabbath...

Bonus:

* We Built This City On; The Needle; Every Place at Once which all track music by location

* Genre Words, the words most distinctively found in the names of tracks in each genre (warm drone: untitled part snow storm small place sleep wind before winter through)
posted by peppercorn (24 comments total) 100 users marked this as a favorite
 
I joined Spotify because of his playlists. They're amazing. Here are some of my favorites: fluxwork, glitch hop, glitch beats, voidgaze, black sludge, acousmatic, laboratorio, mandible, hauntology, drone psych, drone folk, escape room.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2017 [16 favorites]


Wow I missed Every Noise at Once. That is pretty interesting.

I wish somebody was doing this with Bandcamp. Their automated discovery stuff could be a lot better.
posted by ropeladder at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Mandible! I was trying to remember that the other day. I listened to a lot of cool stuff trying to figure out what defined the genre. The only thing I found online was one of the artists also wondering what the hell "mandible" was.
posted by Foosnark at 4:51 PM on December 10, 2017


The genre IDs he comes up with are some of my faves. "Stomp and holler" is distinctive and clear and does what I want it to do a lot better than, e.g., "indie folk rock"
posted by peppercorn at 5:02 PM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Stomp and holler" is distinctive and clear

What's clear about it? I visualize a bunch of people stomping and hollering, not any kind of indie folk
posted by thelonius at 5:17 PM on December 10, 2017


Have you heard what passes for “indie folk rock” on the radio these days?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:42 PM on December 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


Every Noise at Once is cool, but many of the genres are entirely fictional. Googling for them only turns up a handful of results (usually with ENaO as the first result), the artists represented have little connection with each other, and (at least when it comes to electronic music, which is what I know best) I've never heard of the subgenre before or since (and I actively seek out fringey and obscure stuff).

A neat experiment, but no substitute for human-curated playlists.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:44 PM on December 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


But while I'm listening to the "Songs from the Edge" playlist, how do I know which microgenre is represented by each song?
posted by escabeche at 8:44 PM on December 10, 2017


(at last, my secret sea punk project has a shot at the big time...)
posted by kaibutsu at 11:12 PM on December 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I've looked at the previouslies and read the top article on ENaO but I'd love to read a clear explanation (or many) of how Spotify genres work. The labels have to come from somewhere. User playlists? More than that?
posted by lokta at 5:16 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Or does this one guy name every genre?!
posted by lokta at 5:20 AM on December 11, 2017


The best post I've been able to find about how the genres and the genre naming works is this one from Glenn McDonald's blog. It's a really interesting combination of big data and human curation - which is, I suspect, why Spotify's genre playlists tend to be pretty good at finding things I'll like. (like The Sound of Atmospheric Post Rock, which got me through a big chunk of novel editing.)
posted by Jeanne at 6:34 AM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


I loathe genre splitters. My iTunes library got so corrupted with their vile works. As if it were no more than a refrigerator for them to hang their scribblings on! I had to spend hours going through and replacing stuff like "Chillaxcore Shockabilly" with ROCK. Does it have drums playing a big dumb beat and loud guitars? It's ROCK to me.
posted by thelonius at 7:34 AM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]


Thelonius in re: stomp and holler-- the point is that it actually isn't indie folk rock (the Lumineers isn't indie, is only slightly folk, and is only even mildly rock) but that's the category it gets dumped in because sometimes there's a ukelele. There's a lot of stomping and hollering in Stomp and Holler.
posted by peppercorn at 8:23 AM on December 11, 2017


Every Noise at Once is cool, but many of the genres are entirely fictional.

Yes, but that's the point. I've found that his fictional genres encapsulate groups of artists that I like but who don't seem to fall into any extant genres. Eg, "mandible" groups together a bunch of electronic musicians whose work seems to fall in between dark ambient, minimal techno, and experimental electronic. I'm glad that he made up a name for this stuff that I enjoy.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 9:18 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


replacing stuff like "Chillaxcore Shockabilly" with ROCK. Does it have drums playing a big dumb beat and loud guitars? It's ROCK to me.

This is why we need a proper hierarchical taxonomy of genres. While making one would be even more of a fool's errand than ENaO already is, it would be just incredible to explore it. You may primarily care about the phylum of the song but someone else might be more concerned with it's genus or species.
posted by cirrostratus at 10:21 AM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


I loathe genre splitters ... Does it have drums playing a big dumb beat and loud guitars? It's ROCK to me.

If that works for you, then great. But for those of us who enjoy exploring specific sounds and scenes, genre labels are indispensable. Bongripper, The Album Leaf, and Billy Joel are all "rock" – but they suit very different moods and crowds.

I mean, when someone asks me what I want to eat, I don't say "food". I say, "I could really chow down on some spaghetti puttanesca right now".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:34 PM on December 11, 2017


Jeanne that's brilliant, thank you!
posted by lokta at 2:41 PM on December 11, 2017


Bongripper, The Album Leaf, and Billy Joel are all "rock" – but they suit very different moods and crowds.

My deal was, I wanted all those to be there in a search by genre. But not, oh, Mozart or Bud Powell. So I'm a lumper.
posted by thelonius at 2:43 PM on December 11, 2017


I really probably need to emphasize, given the eristics-loving nature of a certain fraction of users here, that I'm talking about how I like to run my own shop, and am not making pronouncements about How It Must Be. You want to tag your stuff as "Shoegaze But By People Who Don't Wear Glasses"? Be my guest!
posted by thelonius at 2:46 PM on December 11, 2017


I’m running into some dynamite stuff here, this is great.
posted by cyphill at 6:54 PM on December 11, 2017


Once you get into overlapping-spacenoise, these 1500 genres pretty much all sound the same.
posted by mubba at 6:57 PM on December 11, 2017


I'm a bit sad that this is a "playlist of this week's top 100 or so fan discoveries from the 1500+ microgenres I help track at Spotify" only for the week of June 16-ish, 2017; if this were a playlist that were uploaded every week with a different selection of microgenres, it would be superlatively delightful instead of merely quite delightful.

However, I was nudged back up to superlatively delighted by discovering The Sounds of Christmas In Various Parts of the World. The Sound of Belgium at Christmas? The Sound of Costa Rica at Christmas? The Sound of Iceland at Christmas? Let's call them what they are: The Sound of Jeanne Trolling Her Family At Christmas.
posted by Jeanne at 9:31 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


Jeanne, good news--it does update every week :) If you open it in the desktop app it shows that the majority were added 4 days ago. A bunch of these songs only dropped in November.

Please report back on your success making your family think they're in Icelandic Yule!
posted by peppercorn at 8:20 AM on December 12, 2017


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