Beck Hansen has been a busy man over the past few years. It seems like he’s done just about everything: from producing albums for Thurston Moore and Charlotte Gainsbourg, to releasing cover albums of Yanni music, to appearing on Jack White’s Third Man Records Blue Series, to writing the soundtrack for the film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. But as any Beck fan will tell you, there is one pursuit that the Alternative icon has not followed through with; namely, a new album of original music.
With his recent appearances at festivals and a few intimate live shows, hungry fans knew that a new album was on the horizon. And now that album has been officially announced, but not quite as fans may have expected. His new album comes in the form of Beck Hansen’s Song Reader. So what does that mean exactly? It means that if you want to hear new Beck music, you’ll have to get a little bit creative.
Set to be released this December through McSweeney’s, the song reader is not an album in the classic sense, but the raw materials. The gatefold package comes is sort of an experiment, as it contains all the sheet music for 20 new songs which have never been heard before. So if you want to hear some new Beck music, you’ll quite literally have to make it yourself.
According to the McSweeney’s website, “The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author, but if you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” bringing them to life depends on you. The Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012-an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.”
In addition to the sheet music (which is comprised of 18 original lyrical songs and 2 instrumentals), the package comes complete with 109 pages of art created by a wide array of artists including Marcel Dzama (the artist for Guero).
People who record their versions of the new songs can then upload them to the McSweeney’s website, where others can listen to all the interpretations all in one place. According to Beck’s website, some select musicians will also be recording versions of the songs as well as anyone who purchases the song reader, but there is no word as to who that will be or whether he will record the songs as well at any point.
Beck never fails to innovate and befuddle, and with his new “album” he has upped the ante even further.