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My Life in Music: Datastacks 0.2


About sixteen months ago, I opened this series of blogs with an uncomfortably-geeky look at my music collection and extraction of a whole bunch of statistics on a whole bunch of inconsequential data.

It’s been long enough now that it’s time for an update, so let’s begin with a brief breakdown of what my music collection currently consists of:


Unsurprisingly, standard long-play albums make up the vast majority of my collection (93.7%); not a shock. Of the remaining 6.3%, though, two-thirds are EPs or collections of B-sides and rarities, while the remaining third consists of ‘Greatest Hits’ collections or live-recorded albums. In many ways, and in this age of digital interfaces and the ability to release small collections of new material online or through mechanisms like Bandcamp, it’s arguable that the humble EP is going extinct; though the meteoric rise of vinyl in the last few years might be its saving grace.

Still, I’m minorly proud of my collection of 576 long-play albums, so let’s investigate what’s changed in my collection since my last blog. The most interesting findings lie in the genre breakdown of my CD collection since March of last year:


In general, the proportions remain fairly the same: my most favourite genres grow whilst the lesser ones continue to trickle on. There’s been a slow expansion in both my flavour for “Steampunk” (mainly due to finally acquiring the entire Steam Powered Giraffe back-catalogue as well as the smashing new record by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing last year) and, more recently, black metal coming with growing respect for the genre. Equally, I’ve seen my interests decline in the likes of thrash metal, power metal and metalcore but become no less intense; it seems that my taste continue to evolve rather than undergo full-scale revolution.

Plotting these growths on a logarithmic scale (comparing the new additions to my collection with the genre counts as of 19/03/2015), one can see the fourfold increase in “Steampunk” records on my shelf but also observe the fairly consistent growth in genres across the board. I’ve always been aware that my musical taste is eccentrically-broad (who else can boast a music collection that features both Cradle of Filth and Ke$ha; Fleetwood Mac and Mr. Bungle?), but it’s reassuring that the trend continues.


The notable gains on the swing-o-meter come under the category labelled “Indie”, and there’s a fine reason why: “Indie”, at least in this little project, has come to classify anything that can’t – for particular reasons – be described as full-on “Rock”, but is something lighter; more atmospheric; or ‘different’. In the last couple of years, I’ve absorbed more and more interest in the genre of post-rock (c.f. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, 65daysofstatic, God is an Astronaut et al.) and fuelled by a rampant voyage of discovery at festivals like ArcTanGent.

On this second iteration of Datastacks, it’s high time to devolve the “Indie” category a little further and delve into the numbers. Whilst ‘indie’ might, these days, have only grazing reference to the truly “independent” music scene, it’s come to mean catchment to a lot more than simply one musical style; much in the way that “rock” encompasses a thousand sub-genres. So, let’s have a look to see what that means in terms of my collection:


Unsurprisingly, my ever-expanding collection of post-rock makes up most of the category; particularly emphasised with a raft of spectacular albums released in 2015 and 2016 by the likes of Explosions in the Sky (The Wilderness), Three Trapped Tigers (Silent Earthling), God is an Astronaut (Helios/Erebus) and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress).

Of the remains, post-punk (in this study, meaning the likes of Killing Joke, Hüsker Dü and The Cure) hoovers up what isn’t what I’d call the more ‘traditional’ indie fayre (Death Cab for Cutie, Chairlift, KT Tunstall, Snow Patrol), whilst the couple of entries tentatively labelled “swing” are delivered by the mighty Dresden Dolls.

So, there you go. Naturally, I’ll retroactively modify the genre split for the next Datastacks, so I can properly track how my tastes are evolving. I’d apologise for being such a massive maths/music nerd, but we both know that I’m by no means ashamed at all. So, nyer.

Anyway, let’s take a look at how the geographical split has divvied up in the last sixteen months:


No spectacular changes, but there’s some interesting mini-growths: Canada and Sweden showing particular, short spurts for no pre-arranged reason; and new entries coming from Luxembourg and Ireland thanks to my interests in post-/math-rock stalwarts Mutiny on the Bounty and And So I Watch You From Afar. I’d expected Norway to be surging ahead, given the sheer amount of Norwegian black metal I’ve been getting down my ears in the last few months, but maybe the charts haven’t fully caught up with things quite yet. Hopefully the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union won’t affect (too much) the trickle of European rock/metal into the United Kingdom; even if it will negatively influence my access to cheap metal records from the continent. *grumble grumble*

That being said, it’s minorly interesting that the advances of homegrown artists in my collection almost matches the progress of US bands; again, through no particular alignment but reflecting, perhaps, efforts to fill back-catalogue gaps in my collection for the likes of Bowie, Muse, [spunge], Cradle of Filth and Funeral For A Friend. Not surprisingly, the NATO countries still dominate my collection, as evidenced by PIE CHARTS: clearly, were NATO to deploy heavy metal-based warfighters towards invasion of the rest of the world, then it’s likely that they would annihilate the opposition.

[FYI, the non-NATO countries reflected here are Finland, Japan, Australia, Ireland and Sweden, who I’m sure would all put up a good fight.]


Upon moving flat, I recently took the opportunity to bolster my music shelving with a few more bookcases and fully alphabeticised my collection by artist name; something I’d been meaning to do for a long time but had never gotten around to. Anyway, beyond the satisfaction of filing everything neatly onto the shelves, the exercise also highlighted some interesting facts about the alphabet.

For clarity, bands are sorted by name (any “The” bands, e.g. The Birthday Massacare, are sorted by the next word in their time) and solo artists are sorted by surname. Let’s take a look:


Clearly, I own a buttload of ‘A’ artists, which owes a lot to AFI but also to the likes of Alkaline Trio, Alice in Chains, Amen, American Hi-Fi, Akercocke, Avenged Sevenfold, Audioslave, Alestorm, yada yada yada. I do wonder whether bands are inherently more likely to choose monickers which are closer to the head of the alphabet for the sakes of prominence in record stores; something that’s far more a study in sociology than I’ll attempt to address here.

Curiously, I haven’t bought a single record by any artist beginning with ‘J’ in the last sixteen months; and only a single album each to the ‘E’ and ‘Q’ categories. In the positive side, though, there’s finally a tally in the ‘Z’ column thanks to the wonderful new self-titled album by Zoax, so let’s continue to watch the progress with interest.

And on that bombshell, I’ll leave things until the next time. Boo-yah.





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2012: A Summer Oddyssee (sic)

What am I up to this summer? Well, here’s a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to where the heck I’ll be and when over the course of the next three months. Doesn’t include a bunch of short-notice stuff that will inevitably crop up, but hopefully this gives the general gist of things.


05/08/2012 ~ Wilton House Classic & Supercar Day

Totally not as cheesy as it sounds, this is basically a whole bunch of awesome-looking piles of metal and carbon fibre converging (last year, around 100-150 of the world’s finest supercars) on a country estate outside of Salisbury to the delight of many. Actually a pretty relaxed affair and one of the highlights of the South Coast petrolhead’s summer. I believe the convoy of expensive machinery will be convoy-ing from London at some point in the early hours, so if you’re on the M3 early in the morn, keep an eye out for a bunch of Zondas, F458s, Lambos, MP4-12Cs, F40s and maybe a Veyron or two zooming past at MANY VELOCITY. I’ll be driving over, so feel free to catch a lift from Southampton.

10-12/08/2012 ~ Ockfest 2012
The annual pilgrimage to Ockley for Ockfest2012 at Dan’s. Queue outdoor camping, violent games of ‘spoons’, outdoor hide-and-seek in the dark, probably Singstar and the obligatory quiz. Always good fun, assuming that Dan’s garden isn’t a swamp and that Great Britain isn’t in typhoon season. Driving up on the Friday to deploy camping gear and shunting back to Southampton on Sunday afternoon

18/08/2012 ~ RockSoc Summer Classic pubcrawl
While the students are away, the oldies of RockSoc play. Relaxed pubcrawl starting at the Drummond Arms and finishing at The Hobbit where there’ll be some RockSoc DJ sets and stuff. I’ve also heard word that Chef Bernie at The Hobbit may be cooking up some special requests for us, as well. Great success.

25/08/2012 ~ Karting (Milton Keynes Daytona)
Maybe. Haven’t decided yet, is an unnecessary expense but I want to go karting. If anyone else from Southamptonland wants to come up and join me, that would be rad and most welcome.

26/08/2012 ~ 6 Hours of Silverstone
The World Endurance Championship comes to Silverstone again as part of the Le Mans Series/Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, and gives us race fans a second time to catch the major Le Mans contenders (Audi, Toyota, Lola) plus the usual range of GT cars hooning around Silverstone for six hours straight. Usually a nice, quiet and chilled-out afternoon  (well, when the Corvettes aren’t roaring past) of some top-quality international motorsport. One of the best value-for-money motor events on the calendar, a Sunday ticket is only £20 or so including roving grandstand which is ideal for watching the start from Luffield, wandering up to Maggots/Beckets during the middle of the race and finishing the day at Club corner to watch the chequered flag and podium ceremony. There’s also usually pitlane/paddock access before the race so you can peek into garages and watch the mechanics preparing the machines. Any Southampton race fans are also welcome to catch a lift. Bring your camera!

28-31/08/2012 ~ ‘Life After the PhD’ conference
A little while ago I submitted an entry to attend this 4-day conference at the Cumberland Lodge, subsidised by the University on the basis that I’m unsure what to do after this is all over, and I was awarded a funded place on the course. Should be a nice few days mingling with people from industry and academia from a range of disciplines, and also a bunch of people in a similar situation, which will hopefully reveal a few of my options and hopefully some ideas that I’d not considered for my follow-up career. I’m certainly thinking of other opportunities well out of the space/engineering field, and it’d be good to hear what sort of things I might be able to participate in once if I graduate.

05-10/09/2012 ~ Bestival (Isle of Wight)
I’ll be attending my first ever music festival with the University of Southampton Roadshow by participating in the Astro Research Group stand in the Science Tent of the ‘Tomorrow’s World’ field and talking to festivalgoers about satellites and space. I’m scheduled to be the first speaker in the Besti-versity Tent, which has a jam-packed schedule of 45-minute long science-based talks from various disciplines, where I’ll be talking about “Catching Hay Fever on the Moon and other Curious Facts about Humans in Space“. I’ll be there from Wednesday until Monday, so if you’re coming along as well, feel free to say “hi”.

07/10/2012 ~ British Touring Car Championship, Silverstone
The BTCC is one of the most action-packed saloon racing championships in the world, and reaches its climax at Silverstone. It’s turned into a rollicking season with Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato all duking it out for the top spot, and the ‘Stone hosts the final three races of the season. There’s also a whole host of support races (Ginettas, Carreras, Clios etc.), providing a solid six hours of entertainment for about 20quid. Southampton troops are welcome to catch a lift if they’d like.

So, a solid summer of Awesome Stuff is planned. I should probably also start on that thesis at some point, but meh. Onwards to fun things!


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