While the growing pile of information on the Web makes most magazines obsolete, I still subscribe to the New Yorker because it has well-written articles about subjects outside my normal, narrow interests. Though most of a recent article about Berlin’s (mostly sex) clubs was alien to me, I identified with one passage:

[Techno] is, fundamentally, Gebrauchsmusik — “utility music”… The utility, in this case, is mostly that of providing succor and pleasure, a sense of direction and purpose, to addled bodies and minds.

I am usually alone in the backcountry, and usually listening to something. Over the years, I have developed strong preferences about what to play in various circumstances, to encourage or complement some mental state. While I listen to much non-techno and non-music, it is all Gebrauchsklang — “utility sound”. I listen not to appreciate the thing itself, like I would a Bach fugue, but to modulate the boredom, fatigue, and pain inherent in time spent in the mountains.

For physically and mentally undemanding activities such as trail “commutes,” there are various spoken podcasts: news, information, short stories. For periods of peak intensity such as grinding up talus piles, there is metal and other high-energy music: Ministry, The Prodigy. And for sustained periods of physical and/or mental exhaustion such as headlamp time and trail running, there is of course techno (or EDM) providing succor to the addled body and mind.

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