Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Some of you may be wondering about what kind of system I might use to "objectively" rank my albums each year. I will try to explain here. Years ago I started a system by which I gave a numerical rating to each and every song on each album whereupon I would add up the sum total of the song ratings and then divide by the number of songs on the album in question. In the 1980s I used a 3 point scale to rate songs whereupon the album rating would be anywhere between 1.0 and 3.0. I did end-of-year album ratings every year for the 1980s. (In case you're wondering:  the highest rated album I had from the entire decade was Kate Bush's The Dreaming from 1982.) Then I got married and had children--which led to a 17-year hiatus from progressive rock music. As my children hit independence, I found myself free to re-introduce some of the things I was passionate about before the 90s--like music and sports. When I joined ProgArchives in January of 2007 I started adopting their five-point ratings system but found that I wanted my ratings to be able to show more definition and delineation so I began using the 10-point per song system (with the caveat that one song per year, the best/favorite song of the year, be allowed a 11-out-of-10 rating)--which I still use to this day.
     The flaw in my system, of course, came with giving equal value or "weight" to brief transition or interlude songs--usually of duration less than two minutes--to other songs---and then giving one flat rating for a 15- to 25-minute epic. It is not, you must admit, fair to equate the value and contribution of a one minute "filler" song with a 20 minute epic. So, I have tried to equalize these songs by "weighting" the shorts less value in the denominator compared to the long songs. Albums like 2015's releases by Agusa and Yak--which only contained two songs each--or Djam Karet's The Trip from 2014, did not get any special or different treatment because they were not, in my subjective opinion, vying for spots in the end of year Top 20s that I compile. Had they been in the running for placement in the Top 20 I would have figured out an equable way to weight each song appropriately.
     Though my "Fisher-metrics" rating system is still biased according to my personal values, tastes and judgments, I consider them far more objective than my more personal assignations of rank according to my "favorites"--hence the inclusion of two lists on my yearly album pages. Also, I get "surprise" rankings each year---numerical orders that do not conform to my more personal list of "favorites." For example, the high rankings of the 2015 releases of both Methexis and Ozric Tentacles (#2 and #3, respectively) caught me by surprise because I had not felt such high esteem for either of the overall albums as I apparently did for the collective of each album's individual songs--as evidenced in the average of the sum of my numerical valuations of contributions of each album's individual songs; on my "favorites" list Methexis' Suiciety rated #6 and Ozrics' Technicians of the Sacred ended up at #8 where as personal favorites from Taiwan's neoclassical Post Rock band Cicada and Denmark's VOLA placed lower on the metrically determined "best" album list.
     Still, I understand that these are all just numbers and that they are still, in the end, based on my personal values and beliefs. So be it. Just in case you were curious.

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