In my mind, Beck Hansen, who hit the big time with his song "Loser," can do no wrong. His last album, "Modern Guilt," was a masterpiece and his performance at Governor's Ball in NY earlier this summer was exactly what I'd hoped for. That said, I'm not sure what to think of his upcoming album, which will come in the form of sheet music.
The new "album" will be released this December through McSweeney's in the form of written music which you'll have to play for yourself if you want to hear it. I have several problems with this concept to begin with. First off, since I am completely lacking in musical talent I won't be able to play the new songs for myself. Second, a big part of what makes Beck great are all the cool studio effects he uses, which will obviously be missing from the new songs.
It's possible that the unconventional move is an effort to curb music pirating, but we all know that scanned images of Back's new sheet music songs will be online just hours after they begin to ship out. It seems more likely that the move is the new album's design is attempt at increasing its "cool factor." After all, if vinyl is cool again why not sheet music too?
Thankfully, us non-musicians who like Beck, McSweeney's will host videos of Beck's friends and fans performing the 20 new songs on their website.
Beck has certainly hit on an interesting idea but it is not completely original. In 2008, both Alkaline Trio and Deerhoof release new singles in the form of downloadable sheet music. However, Beck Hansen's Song Reader will be the first album length sheet music release since who known how long ago.
"Beck is one of the great maverick pop stars of this, or any age, and as soon as I saw 'Song Reader' the relevance of the concept struck me," publishing director Lee Brackstone told The Guardian. "[The book] makes a radical statement about the value and importance of performed and recorded music at a time when these very things are under threat."
"Song Reader" will also feature a forward written by Beck and original art by Marcel Dzama, Leanne Shapton, Josh Cochran, Jessica Hische, and others.
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