Friday, April 21, 2006

I did everything I wanted to.

After I blogged about Nancy Sings recently, I decided to plop it into Pandora to see what would happen.

Pandora is a music recommendation engine. Analysis is done of several songs and the results are plugged into a database. A user submits a song title online, and Pandora plays songs similar to the selection. I've used Pandora from time to time, and I've always been really impressed with the results.

After I'd popped in Nancy Sings, Pandora played a bunch of lovely quiet acoustic tracks - a really sweet Roky Erickson song, for example. I was particularly surprised by that one. I've heard his 13 Floor Elevators stuff, but never his later songs, much less anything that wasn't psychedelic garage rock. Erickson's one of those figures with borderline mental health and tremendous talent, a combination that I find, for better or worse (but never, I hope, fetishistic) terribly romantic.

After playing Roky, Pandora moved on to other tracks with greater variety. It played a Stooges song I love ("I Gotta Right") and then, much to my surprise, moved on to Joy Division's Shadowplay.

You can see Joy Division above, introduced by Tony Wilson, playing the song live. Tony Wilson once responded to the suggestion that Joy Division was sad or depressing by saying that he found them to be romantic, and I like that distinction.

I ran into the above clip by browsing youtube, and I think it's a hoot. More and more I think that Joy Division was the better band, I have to say. You can see it here - everything is simple and tight, but very evocative. No sequencers, no reverb and echo laden walls of electronic chirps, just a tight little punk band engaging in what Pandora calls extensive vamping.

And Ian Curtis dances and generally betters Bernard Sumner in every way. I still love electronic music, but Joy Division was a special band.

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