Information

Information

4.3 6
by Beck
     
 

Leave it to Beck to slap a title as (misleadingly) matter-of-fact as The Information on what might be the most complicated album of his career. The disc, which the singer actually began work on -- then shelved -- before getting into his Guero groove, is something of a stylistic career spanner, with oddball electronic screedsSee more details below

Overview

Leave it to Beck to slap a title as (misleadingly) matter-of-fact as The Information on what might be the most complicated album of his career. The disc, which the singer actually began work on -- then shelved -- before getting into his Guero groove, is something of a stylistic career spanner, with oddball electronic screeds rubbing shoulders with gentle acoustic explorations. The latter element provides some of The Information's most immediately moving moments (notably the sweeping, piano-laced "Strange Apparition"), but it's the more intricate tunes -- the ones that ask the listener to follow Beck down the rabbit hole of his choice -- that ultimately prove most rewarding. "The Horrible/Landslide/Exoskeleton," for instance, demands and holds attention for upwards of nine minutes worth of Dada wordplay, Kraftwerk-styled drones, and doggedly disjointed rhythms. He pulls things together in more structured fashion on songs like "Think I'm in Love," a softly churning Kraut-rock ditty enhanced by impressionistic daubs of cello, and "Elevator Music," on which he reprises his role as ringmaster of the land's funkiest three-ring circus. But just when you get comfortable in any of those environments, Beck pulls the rug out from under your feet -- and does so with such an infectious sense of merriment that the dislocation becomes the best part of the ride.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Beck began work on 2006's The Information after Sea Change but before he reunited with the Dust Brothers for 2005's Guero, eventually finishing the album after Guero was generally acclaimed as a return to Odelay form. So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that The Information falls somewhere between those two records, at least on sonic terms. Musically, it's certainly a kindred spirit to Guero, meaning that it hearkens back to the collage of loose-limbed, quirky white-boy funk-rock and rap that brought Beck fame at the peak of the alt-rock revolution, with hints of the psychedelia of Mutations and the folk-rock that was the basis for Sea Change. Since this is a Nigel Godrich production, it's meticulous and precise even when it wants to give the illusion of spontaneity, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it also pulls the album into focus, something that the generally fine Guero could have used. Guero had many strengths, but its biggest weakness was the general sense that it was unfinished, a suspicion fostered by its endless issues in deluxe editions and remixes. Beck embraced these changes, most extravagantly on the cover of Wired, where he was hailing the future of the album, which would now no longer be seen as finished: it would be a project that covered a certain amount of time, the artist would package it one way, then listeners would offer their own spin. That is precisely what Guero turned out to be, so it would have made sense that The Information would run further down that field, particularly because it has a design-your-own-art for its cover and is supplemented by a DVD filled with quick-n-dirty videos for each of its songs. But Beck isn't so easily pigeonholed: as it turns out, The Information is far more of a proper album than Guero, coming fully equipped with recurring themes and motifs, feeling every bit the concept album Sea Change was. Credit might go partially to his collaboration with Godrich -- who is nothing if not a taskmaster, helping to sharpen and focus erratic talents like Paul McCartney and Stephen Malkmus (for good in the former, not as good in the latter) -- but this also feels like the work of a refocused Beck, who shook off the cobwebs by reuniting with the Dust Brothers, thereby getting his "return to Odelay form" notices out of the way, and then getting down to the real work here on The Information, as he tackles the hyper-saturated info-world of the new millennium here. If it initially seems like surprises are in short supply on The Information -- even when the tracks take a left turn, it doesn't feel like Beck and Godrich are wandering off the map -- the craft is strong and assured, and closer listens reveal the depth of the detail within the album, whether it's in the construction of the production or how those productions illuminate Beck's themes. Ever the obscurist, Beck's meanings aren't always crystal clear, which is no doubt deliberate, but his overall intent is easier to ascertain, especially when "Cellphone's Dead" juts up against "Nausea." There's a greater sense of craft here, and while craft isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Beck, it's what happens when an eccentric sticks around for over a decade: he turns pro. He's done his exploring and now he's learning how to apply what he's discovered. While this may have the inevitable side effect of making his music a little less bracing and exciting, at least on first listen -- and that's especially true when he's in his pop chameleon mode as he is here, since it often seemed like his collages were quickly thrown together instead of immaculately assembled as they are here -- it nevertheless makes for a well-constructed, intriguing, and satisfying album, which The Information assuredly is. Upon first listen, it might seem to slide by a little bit on texture and sound instead of song, but that doesn't necessarily mean it feels even as groove-oriented and hip-hop-driven as Guero (let alone Midnite Vultures), despite the fact that many of the best tracks are built on muscular, intricate rhythms, like the dense, paranoid "Nausea" or the opening fanfare of "Elevator Music." But those further listens -- something that a neo-concept album like this demands anyway -- reveal the complexity within the productions, and how Beck is bridging the two sides of his personality, finding a common ground between his folk roots and art rock sides. All those little details give each cut a dramatic flow, and as the cuts pile up, they all add up to something. Like a picture where you have to stare intently to find the hidden item buried in a seas of colored dots, it can be far too easy on The Information to look at the individual dots and not see the big picture -- but at least here the dots are interesting in and of themselves. And if you give it time, The Information eventually reveals itself as Beck's tightest, most purposeful album yet.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
One of the best albums Beck has ever made.
Los Angeles Times - Richard Cromelin
Hip-hop is Beck's primary vehicle, a broad canvas made to channel his kaleidoscopic imagery. But the album ranges widely, with Stones/Parsons country-rock, "Odelay"-reminiscent songs, the syncopated Doors homage "Nausea," sound collages and an atmospheric lullaby.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/03/2006
Label:
Interscope Records
UPC:
0602517067172
catalogNumber:
000757600

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Beck   Primary Artist
Charlie Bisharat   Strings
Stevie Blacke   Percussion,Violin,Cello,Background Vocals,Slide Guitar
David Campbell   Conductor
Larry Corbett   Strings
Joel Derouin   Strings
Jason Falkner   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Drums,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Moog Bass,African Drums
James Gadson   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals
Armen Garabedian   Strings
Greg Kurstin   Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Berimbau,keyboard bass
Harvey Mason   Drums
Justin Stanley   Acoustic Guitar,Flute,Percussion,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Josefina Vergara   Strings
Nigel Godrich   Percussion,scratching,Drums,Keyboards,Tambourine,Background Vocals,Human Whistle,Kalimba
Joey Waronker   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals
Suzie Katayama   Strings
Alex Acuña & the Unknowns   Percussion,Background Vocals
Natalie Leggett   Strings
Geneviéve Gauckler   Track Performer
Sean Davis   Bass
Harland "Stoney" Lee   Track Performer
Roberto Cani   Strings
Kam Tang   Track Performer
Gerardo Hilera   Strings
Mat Maitland   Track Performer
Michael Gillette   Track Performer
Rudolph Stein   Strings
Melanie Pullen   Track Performer
Tereza Stanislav   Strings
Aleksey Shirokov   Track Performer
Juliette Cezzar   Track Performer
Estelle & Simon   Track Performer
Tiffani Fest   Background Vocals
David Foldvari   Track Performer
Jasper Goodall   Track Performer
Cosimo Hansen   Talking
Mercedes Helnwein   Track Performer
Sage Mears   Background Vocals
Parra   Track Performer
Kimi Reichenberg   Background Vocals
Gay Ribisi   Track Performer
Elisha Skorman   Background Vocals
Will Sweeney   Track Performer
Adam Tullie   Track Performer
Kensei Yabuno   Track Performer
Vania Zouravliov   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Beck   Composer
David Campbell   String Arrangements
Nigel Godrich   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Justin Meldal-Johnsen   Sound Consultant
Gerard Saint   Art Direction
Darrell Thorp   Engineer
Mat Maitland   Art Direction
Rachel Shelley   Contributor

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