Ever ahead of the music industry curve, Ghostly International today released its first (100% free) iPhone application, Ghostly Discovery, a slick listening app that uses mood-based tagging to generate playlists from the Ghostly International and Spectral Sound (its dancefloor-oriented arm) catalogues. Designed in conjunction with o2 creative solutions, Discovery represents a unique departure from the "if you like this, you'll like this" approach to streaming music.
The steps to creating a playlist based on one's mood is pretty straightforward. After getting familiar with the seven mood colors in Ghostly Discovery, users can select a hue that meets their emotional state (yellow is energetic, for example), then toggle the digital/organic and faster/slower sliders. The app then generates a track listing based on these parameters. While tracks are streaming, users can tap the menu under the cover art to get an artist bio, favorite a track, or purchase it directly from the iTunes store. Once a user has registered his email with Ghostly Discovery, he can visit his collection of favorite tracks online and share these as a unique playlist with friends (this feature is super beta at the moment, as there is no way to delete or re-order one's favorites).
Curious to see how effective the song tagging was, I ran Discovery through a battery of mood tests. Introspective / digital / slow gave me a melancholic track by Solvent which met the parameters perfectly well, though was wholly inappropriate for the summer weather at hand. So I reset the indicators to energetic / organic and slightly fast. This gave me a Four Tet remix of Matthew Dear's Deserter. It seemed to be a pretty upbeat, sunny day selection, befitting my current mood. Eager to hear what an aggressive / organic / slow song sounded like, I reset the indicators once more and got a rather dark and menacing track by Twine. Lastly, I wanted to see what Discovery would dish out if I maintained complete neutrality. The first number, a Deru Remix from Lusine's Podgelism, was a meandering, chill tune—neutral, in fact.
Naturally, since Discovery just launched, there are a few improvements to be expected. One major complaint is that the playlists are always ordered in the same sequence. If you continue to set the indicators to frenetic / digital / fast, the playlist will open with the same track and proceed in the same order. While the application interface is both polished and subtle, some of the fields are difficult, if not impossible, to read in daylight. Finally, I would love to see a second generation that takes advantage of the iPhone accelerometer and flips the app orientation to a vertical layout.
Still, if there's one final word on Discovery, it's the chance to hear something new. I've been listening to Ghostly artists for about a decade now and thanks to this new app, I've just discovered 10:32, Australian Tim Koch's new project with Ghostly. What's my music mood now? Energetic.
Check out a brief Skype interview with Sam Valenti IV, founder of Ghostly International, along with a demo video of Ghostly Discovery, after the jump.