FANS of American muso Beck will know that he rarely goes about his career in an orthodox fashion. Last year we saw him release his new album, Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, purely as a book containing sheet music and accompanying artwork for each of the 20 songs. Before that he issued a series of videos covering albums by INXS and Leonard Cohen, among others. Last month, out of the blue, came a new song from him, an electro ballad called Defriended, released in a variety of limited edition formats including 12-inch vinyl. Now comes another one-off introduced in an unusual manner. At a Beck performance in Paris last Tuesday stickers were handed out to the audience that featured artwork by Swedish artist Mamma Andersson. With the artwork was a computer code that, when activated, led to another new Beck offering on YouTube, this one a sprightly slice of pop called I Won’t Be
Long. It too comes in a number of formats but will be available digitally from Monday. Neither of these new songs is expected to appear on a traditional album at any point. Perhaps we will see a whole string of stand-alone songs emerge in the coming months. WHILE we’re on the topic of Beck Hansen’s
Song Reader, many artists seized on Beck’s sheet music to perform their own versions of the songs online and in public performance. One such show took place at the Standard in Sydney at the end of last year and featured local artists including Josh Pyke, Jonathan Boulet and Richard in Your Mind giving their interpretations of Beck’s work. Now comes a set of studio recordings, conducted during rehearsals for the show, featuring those same artists and others. The album, Song Reader —
Sydney Sessions, is released this weekend by The Brag, Sydney radio station FBI and Kobalt Label Services and, as with the concert, will raise funds for the Sydney Story Factory, a not- for-profit writing facility in the city’s Redfern that conducts one-on-one tutoring with marginalised young people. The project is based on a similar principle introduced in the US by Dave Eggers, the writer who founded the publishing house McSweeney’s that published Beck’s ‘‘album’’. OTHER than being spotted at the occasional music industry function, Australian pop guru Gotye has been maintaining a low profile since the fuss died down on his Grammy-winning global domination with Making Mirrors and the single from it, Somebody That I Used to Know (featuring Kimbra). The multi-tasking Wally de Backer is about to relaunch his other musical outlet, Melbourne band the Basics. The threepiece is made up of de Backer on drums, bassist Kris Schroeder and guitarist Tim Heath. The band has released four albums and a collection of rarities in 10 years and will reconnect with Australian audiences after a three-year hiatus with a tour that begins at the Brisbane Festival in September. Schroeder is a volunteer for the Red Cross and has spent much of the past year in Kenya. He’s in a hospital there recovering from malaria but is confident of being fully fit for the Basics’ return to the stage. AUSTRALIA lost a folk music innovator this week in Gary Shearston, who released successful albums in the 1960s and scored a Top 10 hit in Britain in 1972 with a version of Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You. Shearston, from Tenterfield, NSW, suffered a stroke. He was 74.
The deeply unorthodox Beck