Thursday, August 28, 2008
I've often lost myself in my search for that burn that keeps everything awake. - LORCA
Beck is back. Back within my scope, I should say. For the rest of his followers he'd never left exactly, just fading in periodically on a fresh sound wave.
We'd been on about a four year hiatus. I pulled away around the release of Mutations...feeling dissuaded by his acoustic turn. And, at the time, two of my favorite songs on Midnite Vultures--"Nicotine and Gravy" and "Peaches and Cream"-- were tracks that I'd shared with my late mother, therefore listening to them or HIM for that matter provoked memory and undercover grief. During these four years, snippets from Sea Change floated in and out of my landscape, but I completely missed Guero; the mixer upper album, Guerolito; The Information; and Timebomb. Modern Guilt is his latest, and after listening to some layered parts of the Danger Mouse produced album, I immediately decided to RETURN. I began to track his journey through his previous work.
Beck Hanson was an early influence on my identity and expression--existing as almost a muse during my formative years. I remember my sister relishing in my interest/infatuation for the little gyrating maestro, turning the volume up during award show performances and purchasing a copy of Odelay for me.
I began to rummage through my CD collection and found a copy of Sea Change.
He seemed to be following me around. At a bar the other night, "Missing" off of Guero managed to distract me from an entire conversation. Stuck in my ancient ways, I purchased the album from Virgin Megastore and am a confirmed believer that he is one of my generation's pop COMPOSERs. The arrangement of each track is nuanced and layered with several thoughts and directions, resulting in provocative fluidity. It is clear, based on his ease with multiple instruments and his eclectic production teams - Dust Brothers, Danger Mouse along with Beastie Boys and Jack White contributions-- that he's versatile and ever evolving. Beck manages to be a true chameleon-- without having a bought and sold sound. Genuine pop is manufactured and mass produced, however definitive pop is malleable, possessing many faces. Madonna represents this aesthetically, and Beck, musically.
I had difficulty finding a rip of "Missing" with its omniscient and repetitive strings, but the ballad "Broken Drum" is a worthy example, with its forlorn and quiet piano background.
And here we are in 2008 with Modern Guilt, and Beck nearing 40. It is a heavy title for an album from Beck. Not that I hadn't seen a darker side, hence "Lonesome Tears" above, but homey isn't usually this direct. Social responsibility should be heightened now that even the ultimate in my generation's abstract emblem musician will declare it in his album's title.
I will continue to revel in Guero for some days and venture onward to Modern Guilt soon.