Surely you've seen the news, this December Beck "I'd be a lot cooler if I weren't a Scientologist" Hansen and McSweeney's are teaming up to release a new album that isn't an album at all, but actually a collection of sheet music. To hear the songs, you'll have to play them yourself. (Or, at least, wait about 24 hours after it's out to watch the thousands of YouTube videos of other people playing it.)
In the wake of Modern Guilt and The Information, Beck’s latest album comes in an almost-forgotten form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full-color, heyday-of- home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and, when necessary, ukelele notation), the Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012—an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.
The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author, but if you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” bringing them to life depends on you.
They go on to say that "Readers’ (and select musicians’) renditions of the songs will be featured on the McSweeney’s website." I think this is great! Pompous, sure. But an innovative experiment of what a record is and can be in a world where it's so easy to access, interpret, record, and share music.
I must know! Is it cool art? Or is it a stinky fart?