Monday, 10 September 2007

Good Recommendations (2)

Inspired by Paul’s ongoing evaluation I tried my own tiny little evaluation.

As seed I used Le Volume Courbe. I recently stumbled upon Charlotte while browsing the music profiles of friends.

I wanted to find more of the same (unfortunately she only recorded one album), and the most obvious place to start was the similar artist list. There’s lots of good music there, but nothing that I enjoyed as much. I also browsed the top listener profiles, and profiles of people who commented on the page for Le Volume Courbe. Again I found lots of great music, but not really more of the same.

Next obvious stop was Pandora, but they never heard of Le Volume Courbe before. So I tried iLike but they didn’t know about any similar artists and ZuKool couldn’t help either. MyStrands had a long list, but after sampling the first two on the list I had the impression that they are pointing me in the wrong direction (too much towards electronic music). Amazon had some interesting recommendations (first time I heard about shoegaze) but not really more of the same. And finally my flat mate recommended some great and related music, but also not really more of the same.

So my preliminary verdict is: either there isn't more of the same out there, or the music recommendation services I tried need to be improved.

UPDATE: I just had a look at the AMG similar artist list. There's some interesting recommendations there, some of which I had already stumbled upon while browsing similar artists on, but still nothing that's truly more of the same.

UPDATE Part 2: I just tried the AMG Tapestry Demo suggested by Zac in the comments. It's a lot more convenient than browsing the AMG pages, and it's similar to's similar artist radio stations (except that it's only 30 second previews). Nevertheless, there were some recommendations on the list that I appreciated (and hadn't found in the AMG list of similar artists). However, somehow the recommendations seem to be missing some of the "darkness" I like about Le Volume Courbe. Anyway, it's great to have so many nice ways of exploring similar artists.

UPDATE Part 3: I just sampled some of the artists on the list Paul posted in the comments. Whatever system he's using, it's doing a great job in surfacing very unknown artists, some of which are even hardly present on, and most of which seem to be present on myspace (which makes me wonder if his recommendation machine is gathering information from there?). Again, I failed to find more of the same. However, a number of the recommendations were related (in particular, some were related with respect to the lo-fi, singer-songwriter, DIY aspects I like about Le Volume Courbe), and since none of the recommendations in his list had shown up in any of the previous recommendations I had seen (at least as far as I can remember) it was rather refreshing to hear them. It's really nice to see a recommendation machine that has such a strong emphasis on surfacing rather unknown artist.

UPDATE Part 4: Oscar suggested in the comments to try the hype machine, which I did. I found some interesting comments about Le Volume Courbe there, but didn't really find more of the same. I also tried the much hyped SeeqPod, but they not only failed to find music related to Le Volume Courbe, but also gave some not so trust worthy recommendations for Mozart. Others I tried and that didn't have any results were musicmatch and musicplasma.

UPDATE Part 5: Ian mentioned that ZuKool now has Le Volume Courbe in their catalog. I gave it a quick try by adding all the songs from the album into the list (because I didn't like how when I'd only choose one track all other tracks from the same album would show up in the recommendation list). The results were as refreshing as those from Paul's list (none of them I had previously seen in a recommendation list) and they were interesting to listen to. However, I couldn't find more of the same. Btw, getting Celeste Zepponi's "Jesus Is Here" recommended when searching for similar music to Le Volume Courbe suggests that ZuKool completely ignores socio-cultural information, which makes it an interesting alternative to all other music recommenders I use.


Zac said...

You could try AMG's Tapestry Demo.

We've heard of Le Volume Courbe and have some recommendations for other stuff you might like.

Paul said...

Here's a list generated by one of our internal recommenders for this artist. I don't know anything about Le Volume Courbe, and I don't have any idea if this is a good list or not ... interested in hearing what you think.

Grupo Salvaje
Graham Smith
Aidan Smith
Tim DeLaughter
A Million Billion Trillion Stars
Peter Brame
The Mitchells
Julian Heidenreich
TW Walsh
The Crust Brothers

Foafing your music said...

Elias, strange that you didnt try at hypem :-)

There are not lots of entries, but you can read a couple of interesting posts about them.

Moreover, you can check some of the other music in the same post, and see whether these fit your needs...

Cheers, Oscar

Elias said...

Oscar, thanks for the pointer. Yes, I forgot to check out the hype machine. Maybe because I tend to use it more for rather undirected discoveries, i.e. if I don't know what I'm looking for (or when I'm looking for an easy way to download a rare MP3). Anyway, so I tried a search for Le Volume Courbe and read a few interesting blog posts about it, but the few related artists I saw didn't really seem to be "more of the same".

Zac said...

Another interesting site that you might want to check out is this here:

By putting Le Volume Courbe into the search window, it finds other free range MP3s based on the Last.FM Similar Artists (Man, I'm getting some kind of vertigo between this post and Paul's recent "Similar Artist Recommendations" post).

It is currently formatted to look slick on an iPhone, but you can still interface with it in a browser.

[Full disclosure: this was built by an associate of mine, Dan Trenz]

Ian said...

Our library has just been updated to include this album (just for you to evaluate but dont get all mushy ;)

I get an interesting and eclectic range of recommendations using single tracks or a mix in a songlist. Thats a nice way of saying the system is grasping for something similar in our library and not finding anything spot on.

You will understand what comes back though, sparse guitar and vocals for sparse guitar and vocal tracks but it would be nice to capture that edginess.

Give it a go and let us know what you find.

I found some artists you may like from my own playing around, try Mazzy Star and Jasmine Star.

I have probably mentioned before that we are attempting to allow users to tease out what it is specifically (or vaguely) they like about a particular track. In our Facebook app that we hope to roll out soon we are trying to make that easier so you could for example push your personal recommendations to be heavier on "edginess". We will see how that goes but I feel your pain.

Paul said...

Clearly, some type of faceted browsing would help - if only there were some application that would allow you to explore a recommendation along certain a particular axis - so for instance you could browse along the 'dark' axis of similarity. Perhaps you could use a nifty program like this one: MusicSun

Ian said...

Music Lens is a good implementation of this technique.