Here’s a clip of former 90s slacker poster-boy turned sonic visionary Beck Hansen, aka Beck, with a highlight track from the 1998 album Mutations, a record he was quick to point out was not the follow-up to the quasi-hip hop collage that was Odelay. Yet, in the process, he produced something which was in a league of its own, baring no relation to that other album, and therefore not to be compared to it, which was perhaps Beck’s intention all along.
The song itself is a mishmash of 60s English folk-pop flavourings by way of India, with plenty of lysergic magic shimmering around the edges. Yet in 1998, this sounded entirely new, too. Where Beck had perfected the bringing together of disparate textures by the time this record was made, it could be argued that songwriting was secondary to those textures. But on this song, that dynamic is inverted.
This song and the album around it, showed a new side to Beck; no longer the ironic and detached collage specialist, but rather a very astute artist who knew that selling the sizzle and not the steak is often a good idea, but also knew that eventually people gotta eat. And Beck serves up a sumptuous meal here, with a song that still contains his trademark impressionistic lyrics, yet this time with a palpable emotional core to go along with it.
Personally, this is my favourite album of his, and this is one of my favourite songs in his canon. I’d heard, and loved “Devil’s Haircut” and “Where It’s At”, and I loved “Loser” before that. But there was something untouchable about those songs, as if you were hearing them behind glass. But, with this song, and the other songs on Mutations, I got more of an impression that Beck had opened the sliding doors just a crack. He was playing with the idea of letting his audience in a bit more, yet having the sense not to be too forthcoming about the inner workings of his own mind, or heart. He’d save that until Sea Change, four years later. And by then, we knew we could believe him.
To hear more music, check out the Beck MySpace page.
And for more information and addition fan-type stuff, check out the official Beck website.