Yeah, the Flaming Lips have found some unusual ways to present their music — headphone concerts, Zaireeka — but man, they’ve got nothing on Beck. Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, the follow-up to the man’s Grammy-nominated Modern Guilt, will only be available as sheet music. According to Becks new, um, label (?), McSweeney’s:
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.
As someone whose musical facilities range somewhere between garden-variety tone-deafness and appalling ineptitude, I won’t be able to review this one. Here’s some more info: The 20-song album will be released in December and will feature original art from Marcel Dzama, an introduction by Jody Rosen, a foreword by Beck, and “when necessary, ukelele notation.” Some renditions of the songs performed by readers and select musicians will be featured on McSweeney’s site.
So is this a genuinely cool act of defiance in a musical landscape increasingly littered with disposable MP3s? Or the most pretentious thing since Metal Machine Music? Tell us in the comments.