Road Raging

I’ve been driving a lot for work.  In fact, I’ve been working a lot for work; a new job is the source of my extended and egregious absence from writing.  My usual commute is an hour and a half door-to-door, with a nice, quiet, hour-long train ride in the middle.  This new job requires occasional drives to a client-site, and that site is a savage seventy-three miles from my house.  Naturally, a road trip requires a perfectly raging soundtrack.  Picking over the CD collection for worthy albums becomes a time-consuming ritual, invariably delaying my morning departure.

The obsessive care cast upon the selection process is often for naught; many, many albums are unlistenable in my car.  The factory stereo is devoid of mids and washed out with overwhelming bass.  Road noise further degrades the experience.  Some albums can cut through the sonic sludge, but others cross the line into inaudible noise.  I’ve got a mental model of the music in my collection, and I can only handle modest deviation.  Although I’m an avowed fidelity fiend, I’ve never attempted to upgrade my car stereo.  I simply don’t drive enough, and the on-street parking at my house would beg for instantaneous plunder.

I’ve tried to identify aural criteria that would predict an album’s automotive compatibility.  Massive mid-range crunch most certainly helps, but it’s not an automatic benchmark.  Subtle melody doesn’t translate well; success is more likely in all-out, audacious harmony or blatant atonal dissonance.  A subdued drum mix usually helps to increase the odds of audibility.  Dense production is most often a deal breaker.

I’ve thought extensively about all of this, of course, but it has no bearing on my drive-morning ritual.  I blithely scan the racks for whatever might strike my fancy and find my results on the road.  When my journeys are done, I return the car to its rightful owner (my wife, of course).  Like clockwork, she’ll flip on the stereo, expecting to find Charles Trénet or Brenton Wood but instead will be greeted by Barney Greenway.  Sincerest apologies, my love.

Behold the results of my sonic survey:

Success:
Opeth – Still Life
Megadeth – Peace Sells
Morbid Angel – Formulas Fatal to the Flesh
In Flames – Whoracle
Exhumed – Necrocracy
Napalm Death – Diatribes
Gardenian – Sindustries
Death – Sound of Perseverance
Carcass – Wake Up and Smell the Carcass
Iron Maiden – Killers
Castevet – Mounds of Ash

Failure:
Immolation – Shadows in the Light
Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane
The Lord Weird Slough Feg – Twilight of the Idols
Napalm Death – Utopia Banished
Carcass – Symphonies of Sickness
Exhumed - Slaughtercult

1 comments:

i only spend about five minutes a day in the car, but i compensate for the crappy car stereo by deliberately selecting craptacular sounding albums. i find agathocles discography records take on an added edge coming through tinny car speakers.

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