My life is hyperspace
Out of phase
Full of praise
Just in case
Time to waste
Time it takes
You take your pain
Let your mind
As the title of his brand new 14th album Hyperspace would seem to imply, seven-time Grammy-winner Beck has traveled light years from his emergence as a reluctant generational spokesperson when “Loser” exploded from a rejected 1992 demo into a ubiquitous 1994 smash. In the decades since, Beck's singular career has seen him utilize all manners and eras of music, blurring boundaries and blazing a path into the future while simultaneously foraging through the past.
Surfacing just as alternative rock went mainstream, no small thanks to his 1994 debut Mellow Gold, Beck quickly confounded expectations with subsequent releases including the lo-fi folk of One Foot in the Grave. But the album that first cemented Beck’s place in the pantheon was 1996’s multi-platinum Best Alternative Grammy winner Odelay. Touching on all of Beck's obsessions, Odelay remains a key cultural touchstone from the indelible hooks of "Devil's Haircut” and “The New Pollution" to the irresistible call and response of the Grammy-winning anthem "Where It's At."
From the world-tripping atmospherics of 1998's Mutations (Beck's second album to win the Best Alternative Grammy) and the florescent funk of 1999's Midnite Vultures through the somber reflections of 2002's Sea Change, 2005's platinum tour de force Guero and 2006's sprawling The Information, no Beck record has ever sounded like its predecessor. In the interim following 2008's acclaimed Danger Mouse-produced Modern Guilt and the Grammy-nominated standalone single “Timebomb," Beck eschewed the typical album/tour/repeat grind. Instead, he expanded into multi-media endeavors including a one-time-only live re-imagining of David Bowie's "Sound and Vision" utilizing 160+ musicians in a 360-degree audiovisual production, and the equally unprecedented Beck Hansen's Song Reader, originally released December 2012 by McSweeney’s as 20 songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music--complete with full-color original art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and since recorded as an actual album by the likes of Jack White, Juanes, Norah Jones, David Johansen, Beck himself and many others).
Beck's creative tide continued unabated throughout 2013 with three standalone singles released digitally and on 12-inch vinyl ("Defriended," "I Won't Be Long," Gimme"), custom-created performances for Doug Aitken's Station to Station series of transient happenings, life-affirming headline dates, and special Song Reader events in which Beck and eclectic line-ups brought the book to life for a few unforgettable evenings staged in San Francisco, London, and at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
Beck opened 2014 with the 12th album of a peerless career: Morning Phase. Likened by some to a companion piece of sorts to his 2002 masterpiece Sea Change, Morning Phase featured many of the same musicians who played on that record--and who also accompanied Beck for the rapturously received world tour supporting the record: Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Joey Waronker, Smokey Hormel, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and Jason Falkner. Featuring the hits “Blue Moon” and “Heart Is A Drum” along with instant classics like “Waking Light” and “Wave”, Morning Phase harkened back to the stunning harmonies, classic Californian song craft and staggering emotional impact of that record, while surging forward with infectious optimism.
Morning Phase debuted at #3 in the U.S.—generating a unanimous chorus of critical acclaim from the likes of THE NEW YORKER (“a triumph… After listening to Morning Phase 50 times, I can’t find a single thing wrong with it… You don’t get many albums like this in your lifetime… I can’t imagine someone who couldn’t find some succor or beauty here”), ROLLING STONE (“an instant folk-rock classic… feels as personal as it does universal”—4 ½ STARS), THE NEW YORK TIMES (“The record’s beauty approaches slowly, floats, surrounds and shuts off external awareness in the brain stem”), NPR (“If we needed any proof that albums still matter in this short-attention-span world, Beck's flawless 12th album, Morning Phase, is a triumphant testimony”), and more. Morning Phase closed out 2014 atop year-end best lists, with highlights such as #1 Album of 2014 in ESQUIRE ("no album in recent memory taps into our cultural zeitgeist as effortlessly. This is what it sounds like to come to peace with everyday ambiguity and indecision.”) and a slew of others including ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (“Each song swims by with gorgeous melancholy, as though he’d found the only acoustic guitar on the moon”).
Beck rolled into 2015 taking the Album of the Year top honor at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, as well as the prize for Best Rock Album. Morning Phase also won in the Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) category. With three previous Grammy wins to his credit, Beck walked away from attending and performing at the 2015 ceremony with double his previous Grammy tally.
The music has flowed from Beck without pause since: from globe-spanning live shows consistently hailed as the best of his storied career to the 2015 psych-dance summer jam “Dreams” that NPR hailed as "urgently contemporary and irresistibly vintage,” USA TODAY labelled "a strong contender for song of the summer,” and ROLLING STONE raved “This funky little groove is giving us Midnite Vultures flashbacks in the best way possible.” This creative watershed couldn’t even be confined to Beck's output under his own name, as evidenced by sublime collaborations including the Chemical Brothers’ “Wide Open” and Flume's “Tiny Cities.” “Dreams” gave Beck his second #1 single at AAA radio (the first being Morning Phase’s “Blue Moon”) as he continued feverishly working up sketches at home to be fleshed out with producer Greg Kurstin (coincidentally a veteran of Beck's live band circa Sea Change). In summer 2016, a next single, “Wow,” was unveiled in all its fluorescent mutant hip hop glory. And accompanying the retro-futuristic earworm was a virtual “Wow” world built with the help of a global collective of creators on Instagram.
Both songs showed up alongside infectious third single—and third #1 Alternative track in three decades—“Up All Night” on Beck's 13th studio album, Colors, hailed in advance by ROLLING STONE as a “euphoric blast of experimental pop,” and released October 13, 2017 on Capitol Records. Colors let loose an intoxicating rainbow of auditory tricks and treats, rendering it a shoo-in for the summeriest smash of 2017’s fall season. From the captivating piano-driven “Dear Life,” which elicited Beatles and Beach Boys comparisons from THE NEW YORK TIMES, to the irresistible title track and its visual feast of a video directed by Edgar Wright, Colors was yet another commercial and critical milestone for Beck—one that debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and went on to win Best Alternative Music Album (Beck’s third) and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (the second Beck album to do so) at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019.
The 2017-2019 touring regimen following Colors’s release kicked off with a headlining run that generated yet more of the most enthusiastic notices of Beck's live career—and included some of Beck’s biggest plays to date, including his first ever headline at New York’s Madison Square Garden, as well as a summer 2019 co-headlining amphitheater tour with Cage The Elephant. Beck also accepted U2’s invite to join The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 on a series of dates that ran September 3 at Ford Field in Detroit through September 22, 2017 at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. Across these wildly varying venues and crowds, rave reviews remained a constant: ROLLING STONE hailed "Beck’s unparalleled stylistic versatility,” the WASHINGTON POST witnessed a performance that "left everybody who witnessed it enthralled,” and so on…
Meanwhile, Beck's prolific recorded output would include “Tarantula” from Music Inspired by ROMA, “Super Cool” (featuring Robyn & The Lonely Island) from The LEGO Movie 2, and his unforgettable and unmistakable feature appearance on Cage The Elephant’s “Night Running” before he’d finally offer a first glimpse into Hyperspace with the stunning surprise single, “Saw Lightning.” Featuring Beck’s unmistakable raw acoustic slide guitar and harmonica playing, “Saw Lightning” was written and produced by Beck and Pharrell Williams, who contributed drums, keyboards and mumbles. “Saw Lightning” was released April 15, 2019 both as a single and as the perfect music to power the new Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro campaign, a high-energy film directed by Grammy Award-winning filmmaker Hiro Murai.
Beck recently released album number 14, the aptly titled Hyperspace, launching yet another torrent of critical accolades:
"achieves greatness via stardust… There is not a boring moment on the entire album.”—ASSOCIATED PRESS
“lush, groovy… his best in a decade”—PEOPLE
“A dark, heavenly pop fantasy… a revelatory inner-space journey… like David Bowie’s Major Tom checking in from distant orbit.”—ROLLING STONE
"Beck is back, and shape-shifting once again… Now nearly 30 years and 14 albums into his career, Beck has rarely been better than he is on Hyperspace, which shoots for the stars with bold production and storytelling that stays grounded with emotional resonance.”—USA TODAY
"a joyfully introspective, minimalistic but sophisticated, contagiously melodic, straight-ahead, analog synth-pop record with a fleeting few of old school Beck’s signature touches… This is the best, most frank and adventurous thing Beck has done since Morning Phase, but with a far lighter touch in mood and musicality.”—VARIETY
"It’s one of the most consistent albums of Beck’s career and also his strongest in over a decade.”—WALL STREET JOURNAL
Unfolding new dimensions in sound, Hyperspace’s futuristic spectrum is the result of one of Beck’s most collaborative albums to date. Seven of the album's 11 tracks—including single “Uneventful Days” and the previously released “Saw Lightning”—feature co-writing and co-production from Pharrell Williams. Elsewhere in Hyperspace, “Die Waiting” features previous “WOW" collaborator Cole M.G.N. in a similar role and backing vocals from Sky Ferreira, “See Through” is co-written/co-produced by Greg Kurstin, and “Star” is co-written/co-produced by by Paul Epworth, while “Hyperspace” and “Stratosphere” feature guest vocals, respectively, from Terrell Hines and Chris Martin. Longtime Beck bandmates Jason Falkner, Smokey Hormel and Roger Manning Jr. feature on much of the album as well.
“Uneventful Days,” has been realized as a visual transmission from Hyperspace by director Dev Hynes. The pocket universe created for “Uneventful Days” also features album opener “Hyperlife,” as well as starring turns from Evan Rachel Wood, Tessa Thompson and Alia Shawkat (observant longtime Beck fans will spot the principals’ references to classic entries in the Beck video canon).
"Faster, farther, longer, harder”… Hyperspace is here. A meditation on music’s effect to transport us into the unknown, it’ll take you where you didn’t know you needed to go.
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