The Information: one of Beck's best
By
Michael Mofsen
10/23/2006 10:33:06 AM

Beck Hansen has had many phases. First, there was his lo-fi folk/punk stage with Mellow Gold (1994) and “Loser,” his big break single into the 90’s alternative scene. Next, in 1996 he released his defining album, Odelay. Odelay’s genius use of hip-hop samples and rock music solved Beck’s dilemma of being a one-hit wonder. Beck then departed from sampling and recorded Midnite Vultures (1999). This would be the last Beck album with a comedic undertone. Sea Change (2002) was Beck’s melancholic heartbreak album, which was mainly based around an acoustic guitar. Then, in 2005, Beck revisited sampling with Guero. Though the samples were back, Beck’s song writing still had his Sea Change sound. Now, Beck’s new album, The Information has been described as hip-hop, when really The Information [Interscope Records] is ultimately the combination of all of Beck’s previous phases onto one album. The result? A unique-sounding Beck record.

The Information opens with “Elevator Music.” The eccentric beats, the catchy yet strange chorus, and Hansen’s famous white boy rapping makes “Elevator Music” a soon to be fan favorite.

“Cellphone’s Dead” starts off with an almost African sounding drum beat with harmonies in the background. Then the beat completely changes to an electronic beat with samples and weird electronic sounds. The song has all of the Beck elements, but remains a stand-out track because it forms his previous phases into a new sound.

“Soldier Jane” sounds strangely similar to “Guero’s” second single, “Girl.” Fortunately, the song is easy to listen to and will most likely be stuck in your head.

“1000bpm” is the only song that can’t be overly described as hip-hop. Beck raps quickly throughout the song, and not much is added in as the song progresses. However, as the shortest song on the album, “1000bpm” is also one of the most funniest.

“Motorcade” has a different feel and the beat sounds like one off of Thom Yorke’s new solo album, The Eraser. Mainly because Nigel Godrich, (producer, known for his work with Radiohead) added his own personal touch to this song. The sound doesn’t seem right for Beck, and may be one of the only throw away tracks on the album.

The Information closes with the three-part song, “The Horrible Fanfare / Landslide / Exoskeleton.” It’s a very strange to end the record, and after the first listen, you’ll want to hear the 10-minute song again. The combination of vocal samples and changing drum beats in the first two parts help lead into the third part, “Exoskeleton,” but it doesn’t sound like a Beck song at all, merely Nigel Godrich’s own creation.

Despite his previous work with Beck on Sea Change and Mutations (1998), Nigel Godrich’s producing doesn’t make or break the record. However, it does provide a new touch while still being music that is Beck’s own creation and no one else's.

The Information’s packaging is worth purchasing the new record alone. The CD contains many stickers for a blank white grid paper liner, clearly encouraging the listener to create their own artwork. This may not sound very exciting, but the stickers are very cool. The album also comes with a DVD that includes all the songs with videos. The video album was recorded on cheap cameras and mixed together like a 70’s music video. The Information is one of Beck’s best albums and without a doubt, his best packaged.

 

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