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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
I've had a rather on-off relationship with Beck over the years. His chameleon-like musical abilities mean that somebody unfamiliar with his work could listen to two albums back to back and not even realise that they were listening to the same artist. This means that the prospect of a new Beck album doesn't necessarily fill me with excitement; I have enjoyed plenty of his releases, but I've also positively disliked a couple of his efforts too. One of his most distinctive pieces of work is his 2002 album, "Sea Change", produced by Nigel Godrich, which, up until this point, stood alone as arguably his best record (the hugely creative "Odelay" being the other contender) with a dreamy, expansive, acoustic, shimmering character. Now, with "Morning Phase", his first album in six years, he has released a self-produced record every bit the equal of "Sea Change", the album that many fans consider to be his masterpiece. It wouldn't be inaccurate to describe this as a follow-up album to "Sea Change", such is the similarity between the two bodies of work, but "Morning Phase", importantly, still has a character of its very own and, although it doesn't have advantage of the element of surprise which made its older sibling such a beautifully refreshing listen, it is probably the better album.
There are echoes of Nick Drake, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel ("Turn Away", especially) and all of the hallmarks of the late sixties/early seventies folk greats in abundance on this album. I wouldn't want you to think that you were going to hear something stripped down and entirely folk, though, there is definitely something rather sumptuous and grand about "Morning Phase", an impressive vision throughout the set that takes the compositions to a higher level than any simply defined genre. There is also evidence that Beck has learned much from working with Nigel Godrich, as you can almost hear his trademark sound on some tracks and surrounding himself with excellent musicians such as Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Jason Falkner and Joey Waronker as well as a truly wonderful full string section conducted by one of the industry's most accomplished figures, David Richard Campbell (Beck's father) means that this is a magnificently arranged and recorded piece of work, featuring much of the same personnel who made "Sea Change" such a remarkable record. This project has taken him five years to write, record, polish, re-record and develop - it is an intricately-crafted labour of love and the amount of time he has spent on it has paid dividends; it's almost eerily perfect. Quite simply, "Morning Phase" is probably the best album Beck has ever made and, without a doubt, one of the finest pieces of work I am likely to hear this year.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Feb 2014, 00:40:28 GMT
Excellent review! Yes I think I'm going to love this album even more than Sea Change or Mutations (my previous faves)
Posted on 17 Mar 2014, 16:26:24 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Mar 2014, 16:29:09 GMT
Old Man says:
The reason I am into Beck is BECAUSE of his chameleon-like musical abilities. Much like why I love Mike Patton. I listen to Beck because I KNOW I'm going to be surprised, and presented with something unpredictable. It's half the fun of listening to music for me. For me, there's no "but will I like it?" thoughts when it comes to Beck.
Good review though, looking forward to hearing this.
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Mar 2014, 16:28:48 GMT
Andy Sweeney says:
That's cool. I can't say I have loved everything that Beck has done - or Mike Patton, for that matter - but I respect and admire their versatility and artistry. Odelay is what got me into Beck and Sea Change is what led to me loving his music, but I can't say I'd loved everything.
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Mar 2014, 21:41:37 GMT
Paul D. says:
Thanks for your excellent review. I just played most of the album this evening and not being familiar with Beck's other albums I was stunned at how great this is. It feels like an important album which people will look back on as a real classic. I haven't heard Sea Change but will be definitely checking it out very soon.
Posted on 21 Mar 2014, 17:46:20 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 22 Mar 2014, 17:57:17 GMT]
In reply to an earlier post on 1 May 2014, 20:55:58 BST
You will LOVE Sea Change. Correction... you should have it by now !
Posted on 26 May 2014, 13:41:21 BST
So much of what you say in your review echoes my thoughts and feelings about this new work by the changing man. In truth I have been waiting patiently for Beck's production values to revisit those of Sea Change. As much as Odelay was pleasingly 'different', even a little eccentric, Sea Change was Beck's grand opus for me, by no narrow margin. With the emergence of Morning Phase, I feel my patience has been rewarded. I don't think every track hits the heights, but those that do: the crafting and production is so good that it is touching. Say Goodbye exemplifies this beautifully. I must congratulate Beck on yet still continuing to learn and grow and evolve. For me, most of what he has learned is represented in this, the new grand opus.
Posted on 23 Dec 2014, 13:39:10 GMT
Mr. Robert W. Smith says:
A fine review.
The new year is almost here and this remains my favourite album of the year. Sublime album.
Good to see that Beck is up for best album at the Grammy Awards.
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