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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Top 10 albums each year over the past two decades.

Top 10 studio albums each year, omitting live CDs and compilations, bonus disks, etc.

The scores are based on cumulative user votes on Progulus Radio. A look at the voting pool: Average unique voters in 2012: 62.5, Average votes per month: 2,036.  Each song is voted on separately, and the average for each album is calculated.  A baysian average is then used on the result.  The results of 2012 may change slightly in the future as more and more votes accumulate.  The result is based on a small pool of voters compared with the prog scene as a whole.

The number is the album's overall rank on the station.

127 Headspace- I Am Anonymous, UK
301 Threshold- March Of Progress, UK
542 Hemina- Synthetic, AU
605 Delain- We Are The Others, NL
768 Bad Salad- Uncivilized, BR
781 Circus Maximus- Nine, NO
787 Lord Of Mushrooms- Perspectives, FR
794 OSI- Fire Make Thunder, US
810 Mystery- The World Is A Game, CA
888 Kaipa- Vittjar, SE

100 Haken- Visions, UK
141 Opeth- Heritage, SE
160 Leprous- Bilateral, NO
195 Joseph Magazine- Night of the Red Sky, PL
232 Arch/Matheos- Sympathetic Resonance, US
286 Subsignal- Touchstones, DE
292 Redemption- This Mortal Coil, US
302 Karmakanic- In A Perfect World, SE
338 Dream Theater- A Dramatic Turn Of Events, US
348 Steven Wilson- Grace For Drowning - Deform to Form a Star, UK

54 Vanden Plas- The Seraphic Clockwork, DE
83 Haken- Aquarius, UK
105 Myrath- Desert Call, TN
143 Echoes- Nature | Existence, VE
151 Star One- Victims of the Modern Age, NL
215 Chimp Spanner- At The Dream's Edge, UK
264 Darkwater- Where Stories End, SE
273 Day Six- The Grand Design, NL
370 Kingcrow- Phlegethon, IT
402 Unitopia- Artificial, AU

12 Riverside- Anno Domini High Definition, PL
40 Redemption- Snowfall On Judgment Day, US
69 Guilt Machine- On This Perfect Day, NL
137 OSI- Blood, US
138 Animals As Leaders- Animals As Leaders, US
169 Subsignal- Beautiful & Monstrous, DE
176 IQ- Frequency, UK
194 Leprous- Tall Poppy Syndrome, NO
206 Porcupine Tree- The Incident, UK
221 Ozric Tentacles- The Yum Yum Tree, UK

23 Ayreon- 1011001, NL
28 Opeth- Watershed, SE
90 Seventh Wonder- Mercy Falls, SE
101 Frost*- Experiments in Mass Appeal, UK
115 Karmakanic -Who's The Boss In The Factory, SE
123 Amaseffer- Exodus - Slaves for Life, IL
186 Votum- Time Must Have A Stop, PL
188 Andromeda- The Immunity Zone, SE
191 Shadrane- Temporal, FR
229 Everon- North, DE

7 Symphony X- Paradise Lost, US
20 Porcupine Tree- Fear Of A Blank Planet, UK
26 Redemption- The Origins Of Ruin, US
30 Circus Maximus- Isolate, NO
44 Riverside- Rapid Eye Movement, PL
55 Myrath- Hope, TN
56 Spheric Universe Experience- Anima, FR
79 Dream Theater- Systematic Chaos, US
84 Dead Soul Tribe- A Lullaby For The Devil, US
87 Sieges Even- Paramount, DE

17 Vanden Plas- Christ.0, DE
31 Frost*- Milliontown, UK
82 Wolverine- Still, SE
109 Tool- 10,000 Days, US
118 Beyond Twilight- For The Love Of Art And The Making, DK
132 Seventh Wonder -Waiting In The Wings ,SE
162 Mind's Eye- Walking on H20, SE
183 Venturia- The New Kingdom, FR
214 Riverside- Voices In My Head, PL
228 Galahad- Empires Never Last, UK

4 Redemption- The Fullness Of Time, US
9 Circus Maximus- The 1st Chapter, NO
22 Riverside- Second Life Syndrome, PL
50 Indukti- S.U.S.A.R, PL
57 Porcupine Tree- Deadwing, UK
62 Sieges Even- The Art Of Navigating By The Stars, DE
71 John Petrucci- Suspended Animation, US
76 Opeth- Ghost Reveries, SE
80 Shadow Gallery- Room V, US
85 Kamelot- The Black Halo, US

25 Ayreon- The Human Equation, NL
32 Dreamscape- End Of Silence, DE
36 Riverside- Out Of Myself, PL
58 Threshold- Subsurface, UK
65 Pain of Salvation- BE, SE
95 Nightwish- Once, FI
98 Evergrey- The Inner Circle, SE
136 Pyramaze- Melancholy Beast, multi
146 Jordan Rudess- Rhythm of Time, US
159 Dead Soul Tribe- The January Tree, US

14 Opeth- Damnation, SE
18 Dream Theater- Train of Thought, US
86 Adagio- Underworld, FR
149 OSI- Office of Strategic Influence, US
170 Andromeda- II = I, SE
178 Atmosfear- Inside The Atmosphere, DE
181 A.C.T- Last Epic, SE
204 Dead Soul Tribe- A Murder Of Crows, US
216 Green Carnation- A Blessing In Disguise, NO
223 Sun Caged- Sun Caged, multi

3 Symphony X- The Odyssey, US
19 Dream Theater- Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, US
34 Pain of Salvation- Remedy Lane, SE
46 Porcupine Tree- In Absentia, UK
61 Pagan's Mind- Celestial Entrance, NO
64 Star One- Space Metal, NL
73 Threshold- Critical Mass, UK
107 Vanden Plas- Beyond Daylight, DE
166 Karmakanic- Entering The Spectra, SE
175 Nightwish- Century Child, FI

52 Threshold- Hypothetical, UK
122 Ambeon- Fate Of A Dreamer, NL
125 Ark- Burn The Sun, multi
126 Adagio- Sanctus Ignis, FR
150 Opeth- Blackwater Park, SE
155 Tool- Lateralus, US
179 Jordan Rudess- Feeding The Wheel, US
209 Evergrey- In Search Of Truth, SE
219 Transatlantic- Bridge Across Forever, multi
238 Stride- Music Machine, US

10 Symphony X- V: The New Mythology Suite, US
15 Ayreon- Universal Migrator Part II: Flight Of The Migrator, NL
33 Koyaanisqatsy- From The Yearning To Burst - The Perpetual Circle, DE
38 Pain of Salvation- The Perfect Element I, SE
74 Spock's Beard- V, US
81 Ayreon- Universal Migrator Part I: The Dream Sequencer, NL
131 Fates Warning- Disconnected, US
152 Porcupine Tree- Lightbulb Sun, UK
224 Maximum Indifference- The Transmutations of Supposed Angels or Beings that were once Girls, US
356 Planet X- Universe, multi

2 Dream Theater- Scenes From a Memory, US
6 Liquid Tension Experiment- Liquid Tension Experiment 2, US
184 Opeth- Still Life, SE
220 Kamelot- The Fourth Legacy, US
295 Spock's Beard- Day For Night, US
300 Balance Of Power- Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion, UK
309 Porcupine Tree- Stupid Dream, UK
311 Ozric Tentacles- Waterfall Cities, UK
314 Dali's Dilemma- Manifesto For Futurism, US
429 Mastermind- Excelsior!, US

27 Symphony X- Twilight In Olympus, US
35 Liquid Tension Experiment- Liquid Tension Experiment 1, US
53 Ayreon- Into The Electric Castle, NL
189 Pain of Salvation- One Hour By The Concrete Lake, SE
201 Threshold- Clone, UK
282 Shadow Gallery- Tyranny, US
331 Platypus- When Pus Comes To Shove, US
387 Savatage- The Wake of Magellan, US
424 Eloy- Ocean 2 ~ The Answer, DE
496 Arena- The Visitor, UK

11 Symphony X- The Divine Wings Of Tragedy, US
13 Dream Theater- Falling Into Infinity, US
114 Pain of Salvation- Entropia, SE
120 Fates Warning- A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, US
180 IQ- Subterranea, UK
250 Spock's Beard- Beware Of Darkness, US
297 Spock's Beard- The Kindness Of Strangers, US
341 The Flower Kings- Stardust We Are, SE
365 Devin Townsend- Ocean Machine Biomech, CA
389 Crucible- Tall Tales, US

320 Rush- Test For Echo, CA
403 Eric Johnson- Venus Isle, US
409 Ritual- Ritual, SE
436 Tool- AEnima, US
448 Pendragon- The Masquerade Overture, UK
449 Lemur Voice- Insights, NL
598 Steve Vai- Fire Garden, US
620 Angra- Holy Land, BR
658 The Flower Kings- Retropolis, SE
749 Superior- Behind, DE

16 Dream Theater- A Change of Seasons, US
161 Symphony X- The Damnation Game, US
182 Savatage- Dead Winter Dead, US
308 Ayreon- The Final Experiment, NL
366 Kansas- Freaks Of Nature, US
488 The Gathering- Mandylion, NL
490 Shadow Gallery- Carved In Stone ,US
491 King Crimson- Thrak, UK
492 The Tea Party- The Edges Of Twilight, CA
521 Enchant- A Blueprint Of The World, US

29 Dream Theater- Awake, US
116 Pink Floyd- The Division Bell ,UK
323 Roine Stolt- The Flower King, SE
345 Marillion- Brave, UK
428 Savatage- Handful Of Rain, US
584 Queensryche- Promised Land, US
608 Fates Warning- Inside Out, US
627 Ozric Tentacles- Arborescence, UK
815 Symphony X- Symphony X, US
875 Michael Manring- Thonk, US

505 Savatage- Edge of Thorns, US
610 Rush- Counterparts, CA
612 Threshold- Wounded Land, UK
679 Tool- Undertow, US
680 Ozric Tentacles- Jurassic Shift, UK
703 Saga- The Security Of Illusion, CA
709 IQ- Ever, UK
720 Greg Howe- Introspection, US
782 Pendragon- The Window Of Life, UK
863 Porcupine Tree- Up The Downstair, UK

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Progulus Radio Average Ratings by Genre Tag

Without further ado, here's a graph of z-scores by genre tag:

ratings by genre z-scores

Notes on the graph:

Z-scores measure how many standard deviations each item is away from the mean.

Genre tags are not usually exclusive genres, but tags used to try and describe the music. One artist may have several genre tags. For example:

Arena: Neo-Prog, Progressive Rock, Symphonic
Cosmosquad: Heavy Prog-Fusion, Guitar Oriented Rock, Technical, Instrumental
Epica: Progressive Metal, Symphonic, Goth Doom, Female Fronted
John Petrucci: Guitar Oriented Metal, Shred, Instrumental, LTE/Planet X and Influenced, Technical DTI

There are a few catch-all tags that apply to most bands on progulus: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Symphonic, and Instrumental. For instance most Neo-Prog bands are also tagged as Progressive Rock. These super-genres shouldn't be compared with other genre tags due to their breadth, but could be compared against eachother.

Technical DTI is an abbreviation for "Dream Theater Influenced", and also includes Dream Theater and its side-projects. Some other examples include Andromeda, Dreamscape, Spheric Universe Experience.

Fore the tag "LTE/Planet X and Influenced," LTE is an abbreviation of Liquid Tension Experiment.

There are many more genre tags than are highlighted here, but I picked out the ones with the largest pool of data.

"Mean" is obviously not a genre tag, but a placeholder for the average rating.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Interesting trends in Progulus Radio ratings data

I've been taking a close look at various aspects of the user ratings data on Progulus recently. Here's the first of a few posts about my findings. What I was interested in finding out was what the best years for prog were. Was there a "golden age" of the 2000's modern prog like there was with the golden era of prog in the 70's?

First, a digression into the method that I use to rate albums on the station. What I did first was to take the raw average album scores based on user ratings for each song and obtain the bayesian average. Why baysian averaging? Well using this method allows you to weight ratings based on the number of accumulated votes. For example, an album with only two "5" votes is really not a "5" rated album when compared to another album that has accumulated 100 "5" votes. Only after an album gets sufficient votes will the album's true rating become apparent. The bayesian formula takes this into account and adjusts the rating of albums with fewer votes closer to the mean.

After I adjusted the user ratings for each album, what I did next was to rank them all from highest to lowest in sequence from 1 to 4,500+, up to the total number of rated albums. In case you're wondering, the #1 ranked album on the station is Dream Theater - Images and Words. No big surprise there. Next, I took the albums from each year and looked at the top 50 albums of that year individually. One could tally an average rating for each year from those 50 CDs and then plot them on a graph, but what I did was to simply sum up the overall rankings of those 50 albums for each year. I inverted the result so that a higher score is better, as it's what we are used to seeing on graphs. Here's the result:


A couple of things to note on the result. First, as you go back in years to the early 90's, there are fewer and fewer representative albums. Before 1994 there were fewer than 50 albums for each year so they couldn't be included in the poll. Compare this to the late 2000's where there were upwards of 200 - 250 albums each year. I believe there is a direct correlation between the number of albums in the pool and the number of highly rated albums. Granted, Progulus does not have every possible album for a given year available, but I'd like to think that we have all of the most important albums. So by this reasoning, there are simply more albums available due to the popularity of the genre, and as a result we have a certain percentage of highly rated albums out of that pool to draw from.

Second, the graph drops sharply as we get to the present time. Fortunately for us I don't believe that this is wholly the result of a tail off in music quality over the last 3 years. Part of the reason goes back to the bayesian averaging. Newer albums have fewer votes, so it may just take a few years to accumulate enough votes to adjust the rating up away from the mean. I don't think this is the whole picture though. I have a hypothesis that people tend to rate music lower that they are less familiar with. To test this theory I would have to look at the raw user ratings going back a few years. That may be the subject of a future article.

The real finding here is that we started to hit our "peak" or golden age somewhere around 2004. This result wasn't surprising to me since I always personally considered 2004 as a banner year for prog, and a year that really opened the flood gates and inspired many new bands who would follow. Where the surprise was for me was that this peak continued well into 2008 - 2009, with 2007 marking the high point in the annual ranking. Lets take a look at the top 10 rated albums for 2007 as an example:

7, Symphony X- Paradise Lost, US
20, Porcupine Tree- Fear Of A Blank Planet, UK
26, Redemption- The Origins Of Ruin, US
30, Circus Maximus- Isolate, NO
44, Riverside- Rapid Eye Movement, PL
55, Myrath- Hope, TN
56, Spheric Universe Experience- Anima, FR
79, Dream Theater- Systematic Chaos, US
84, Dead Soul Tribe- A Lullaby For The Devil, US
87, Sieges Even- Paramount, DE

The number listed before each album is it's overall rank on the station. The #10 album that year is still in the top 100 of all albums. The only other year that I looked at that came close to this was 2005. In 2008 the #10 album ranked #191 overall, and in 2006 the #10 album ranked #228 overall. We can take a look at this in more depth with the following graph that shows the total number of top 10 albums each year that presently rank in the current overall top 100:


To be in the overall top 100 rank an album has to be in the highest tier, or better than about 98% of the other 4500+ albums on the radio station. Looking at the result, 2005 and 2007 both had the highest number of "hit-producing" years with all 10 of the top 10 CDs falling within the overall top 100 ranking. While 2000, 2002, and 2004 did produce a quite a few albums that rank in the top 100, the indication from the first graph is that a lot of other CDs that came out those years ranked quite a bit lower than the top 50 did in 2004 - 2009. It's also interesting to note here that there are a lot of peaks that seem to happen every other year.

We may need to wait a few more years to find out if 2009 - 2012 is really marking a downward swing in the quality of music coming out, or if it's simply an error in the way the data was analyzed as I described above. But it's clear from the data that the modern "golden era" of prog began to peak around 2004 and continues at least into 2008-2009, if not further.