Innovations in Music Distribution

I was at a concert the other day, and as usual, I checked out what wares the musicians had to sell in the interval.

And there was this box:

… with a card inside:

It’s USB!

Isn’t that great?

It conducts light really well, so that if your USB hub has a LED, it looks all purdy and stuff.

(On the USB drive was an album of Melodies & Fragments .wav tracks and a bunch of .mov and .mp4 files with visual components, as well as a 40 minute live show. It’s great! Sten Sandell 4 ever!)

The Best Albums of 2019

Here’s the best music of 2019, according to Emacs, which has carefully tallied what I’ve been listening to:

Sam Amidon

I See The Sign

Meat Beat Manifesto

Opaque Couche




Third Noise Principle (Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984)

Brigid Mae Power

The Bones You Keep Close

Lucy Roleff

Left Open in a Room

The Volume Settings Folder



Nigeria 70 (No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987)


Break Before Make

Christoph de Babalon

Hectic Shakes

Kronos Quartet

Terry Riley: Sun Rings

It’s a bit difficult to do a play-based ranking this year, because I’ve just bought way too much stuff, so there just hasn’t been time to listen to everything…

There wasn’t really any single stand-out new album this year (except the Amidon album), just a bunch of new music that’s good and interesting and stuff.

Here’s the best old albums I’ve bought in 2019, and once again Bright Phoebus by Lal and Mike Waterson won, because I bought a new version of it: This time the vinyl version that had to be withdrawn because the copyright holders demanded it be destroyed. But I got a copy from ebay! Hah!


Lal & Mike Waterson

Bright Phoebus

Sam Amidon

All Is Well



Blue Iverson


Joe Jackson

Live 1980-86

Mia Doi Todd

Pink Sun EP

New Order

Movement: Remaster


For Discos Only

A Certain Ratio


Don Cherry

Brown Rice

The Best Albums of the Decade

As a data scientist, applying machine learning to my listening patterns has led to this quantitative analysis of the albums of the decade. I can therefore reveal that these are officially the best albums released during the previous ten year period:

Dani Siciliano

Dani Siciliano

Black Cab

Games of the XXI Olympiad



Grumbling Fur


Cat Power


Kate Bush

50 Words For Snow

Pet Shop Boys


Véronique Vincent & Aksak Maboul

Ex-Futur Album


Garagen Aurora


Talk About Body


Breakup Song

Krim U


Laura Jean

Laura Jean

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang

En yah say

Joanna Newsom


New Order

Music Complete

Or rather, I had Emacs tally up which albums I’d listened to most over the previous decade. However, that just led to the oldest albums winning, of course, since they’ve had most time to be listened to.

So I experimented with various way to apply decays. The question is: If I listened to an album ten times per year since 2010, is that an album that should have the same rating as an album that I’ve listened to ten times this year? Probably… not? My default mode of listening is to direct Emacs to play me the newest music I’ve bought, so I listen to almost all things I buy 5-8 times, whether I like them or not.

Like any data scientist, the solution is obvious: Fiddle with the hyperparameters until I get a list I kinda agree with.



The result is above. The album I listened most to was 50 Words For Snow by Kate Bush at a whopping 50 times (which ended up as number 6, but was bought in 2011), and the winner here, Dani Siciliano, I’ve only listened to 28 times (but bought in 2016).

Science is hard!

For giggles, while we’re gazing into the abyss of my navel, here’s the list of albums I listened the most to, in total, no matter how old they are:

Talking Heads

Remain In Light

Kate Bush

The Dreaming

Kate Bush

Never For Ever

Kate Bush

The Kick Inside

Talking Heads

Fear Of Music

Kate Bush

Hounds of Love

Kate Bush


David Bowie


David Bowie


Laura Jean

Eden Land

David Bowie

Diamond Dogs

Geez! You’d almost think I like Talking Heads and Kate Bush or something. (The winner, Remain in Light I listened to 100 times this decade, and Diamond Dogs, at number 12, I listened to 51 times.)

So are there any further ways to torture this data set? Uhm… OK, let’s look at albums I bought this decade, but were made earlier. (But this time I removed the weights, just because.)


Songs About Dancing And Drugs



Zazou, Bikaye & Cy1

Noir et Blanc


Crammed Global Soundclash 1980-89, Part One: World Fusion

Joe Jackson

Look Sharp!


Crammed Global Soundcrash 1980-89, Part 2: Electrowave

Tracey Thorn

King’s Cross

Siouxsie and the Banshees


Commando M. Pigg

Commando M. Pigg

Joe Jackson

I’m The Man



Hype Williams


Ultra Naté

Situation: Critical

Lal & Mike Waterson

Bright Phoebus



So I’ve been futzing with my living room stereo setup lately after getting new speakers, and things look a bit too… stacked?

So I thought I’d at least slim down the box the stereo is sitting on:

That’s an Ikea box, and it’s too wide and too high and too deep. Inside that box is a bunch of electronics, so I have to have… something… but perhaps not that big of a something?

So today the new Montana box arrived, and I got started disassembling the stereo (and stuff), which I was not looking forward to. Something always stops working when touching equipment that’s been just sitting there for half a decade.

And the main problem, this time, was with the DA/AD matrix mixer I use for distributing music (on different sound levels) to the various rooms: The RME Hammerfell DSP Multiface II *phew*. At first it didn’t work… but then it worked… and then it didn’t work… and then the computer says that it works but no sound comes out of it…

It turns out that if I touch the 1394a cable (aka six pin Firewire, which is what the RME PCI Express card uses to communicate with the box (but it speaks a proprietary protocol, not Firewire)) in a certain spot, it loses connection. So it seems like the cable is faulty, somehow, and I don’t have any other 1394a cables (just four pin cables).

But if I leave it just… so… I’m now getting music again, after a hellish two hours of silence.

Oh the humanity.

See? That’s… totally… different… from what it was before…

Totally… worth… it…

But at least this one rolls on castor wheels, so I can poke at the cables more easily when I need to.

So there! Worth it!