Monday, August 13, 2012

Beck's DIY Album

Beck is in that "like some of their songs, but can't be bothered to own any of their records" category of musicians for me, a decision that has been completely paid off by this little news item.  In a story that sounds 100 percent like an Onion headline and yet is somehow true, Beck's new album is going to be released as nothing but sheet music.  If you want to listen to the songs, you'll have to play them yourself.  It doesn't specify whether the sheet music is for guitar, piano or what, but I presume different versions will be made available for different instruments. 

Then again, I probably shouldn't presume even that level of user-friendliness, since this is already the least practical idea in the history of music.  Suppose you're a big Beck fan and have been eagerly awaiting his first new studio album in four years.  Suppose, also, that you don't know how to play any instruments.  Ergo, you're SOL.  According to Rolling Stone via that Gawker link, some versions of the songs will be posted online, but performed by fans, not necessarily by Beck and his band themselves.

If you're such a non-musically inclined Beck fan, you'll just have to wait for Beck to play these songs live in order to a) hear them played as Beck intended or b) just to hear them whatsoever, since I'll be damned if I'd go online just to see a YouTube video of some yokel "covering" a song I'd never heard in the first place.  Covers are fine after the fact, but they can't at all match the excitement of that first time listening to a new album from your favourite band.  Beck may just be trying to build a communal experience between he and his audience but it comes off as both a gimmick or a way of potentially just hiding a crappy record.  I find it hard to believe that Beck doesn't have some sense of craftsmanship when it comes to his music, so this "music is for all of us, man, this is the best way of experiencing these songs in our own personal way" idea falls flat.  As someone who owns more than a few books of U2 songs arranged for piano, for as much as I enjoy recreating the tunes myself, I don't like it as much as actually hearing Bono and company play them in the first place.  If I shoot hoops in my driveway, I wouldn't get lost in the communal experience and suddenly not want to watch the NBA Finals.

On the bright side, the Flaming Lips are officially off the hook as making the most needlessly-complex concept album of all time.

1 comment:

Marble said...

Bright side? Yup, Flaming Lips are off the hook, but it hasn't quite been the same since Ronald James left.