Mutations Album reviews.
Release Date: 11.03.98
Record label: uni / dgc records
His Own Fault
by: bill aicher
Track two of this CD is called "Nobody's Fault but my Own" and in a way - this is a perfect track to describe the future for Beck. Basically, this album will not do nearly as well as Odelay. It is not because the music is bad, not in the least, but instead it is because the music is good. Gone are the hiphop beats, vanished is the saturation of samplers, nowhere will you find a turntable. This is folk music with a twist. Quite a, dare I say it, mutation(?) from his earlier work?
Beck has come as close to country as is possible for an alternative recording artist. The new album is laden with folk/blues style, including a generous dosage of slide guitar and harmonica. If it were not for the inlay of electronic sounds to set up a background, this would be a country / folk album. It is as plain and simple as that. I am not trying to diss Beck in any way with what I am saying, but I feel it is my responsibility to let you, the reader, to know what you are in for if you check out this disc. Don't expect to hear any of these tunes at a dance club or house party, that is unless you are not trying to dance. I am happy I own the CD. It is great music. It is just not Odelay Beck.
If you want to know what you are looking forward to, think back to old-school Beck. Think One Foot in the Grave (1994). Think "MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack." Think "Bogusflow." If you don't know any of this, or if you have only heard "Tropicalia" off of the disc, try to get an idea from that. "Tropicalia" is one of the most upbeat, Beck-esque songs on the CD. Well, actually these songs are about as "Beck" as you can get. After the success of Odelay he has earned the right to make a CD like this. It is about time he gets back to his roots. The only problem with this is the fact that Odelay was released in the first place. Everyone is now looking to Odelay as what kind of music Mr. Hanson makes. If you check out this CD you will find the true Beck.
So, I suppose you are wondering why I still like the album after what I have all said. This album is great. Beck knows what he is doing. His original voice and artistic musical talent shine through on this disc. It is a great disc to lay back to. Nothing on the CD is going to make you get up and get your groove on. I guess you could call it more of a stoner music. As anyone even aqcuainted with Beck knows, his voice never holds a lot of excitement. The producer on this disc (barring Beck) had an influence as well. Nigel Godrich is the same man behind production of possibly the best alternative-rock album ever, OK Computer. His influence is obvious here as well. Producer has a lot to do with sound - the producer for Odelay is the same man who produced Hello Nasty (Beastie Boys). This is why Hello Nasty and Odelay are so similar - production. What we have here is a more melancholic album, much the same way OK Computer is not an exciting work - but still musical genius.
All I have to say yet is that this disc is great, for the style it is in. I am happy to see Beck go out on his own and do what he wants. I just hope next time he shows us once again "Where it's at."