In the latest in a seemingly endless line of inscrutable moves (releasing an album only as sheet music, rapping with that guy from Community), Beck — who is now a free agent — has unleashed three new songs via the PlayStation 3 game Sound Shapes. Released last week, the game contains "Cities," "Spiral Staircase," and "Touch the People" (all playable below, complete with a few complimentary bleeps and start screens), which might have constituted an EP if released differently.
Nevertheless, it's great to hear some new Beck music, even under somewhat quirky circumstances. "Cities" is a densely textured, keyboard- and percussion-driven song that has a lot of "aaaahhhh" parts, as the video-game screen transcribes. When the lyrics kick in ("Waiting for the night to come / There's a hundred dead cities outside"), it actually matches the game's visuals well, which show cities on fire; it seems to end somewhere in the late six-minute range, but the kind soul who recorded the gameplay actually played well enough to end it early. "Spiral Staircase" is glitchy, synth-driven downtempo number that has lyrics like "We don't care just where we're going / You and I, we'll climb so high." It adds funkier parts as the player moves from room to room. Finally, "Touch the People" is a sample-heavy arty number that picks up with funky breaks and scratchy and squeaky synth sounds when the player moves into some green netherworld. Around the five-minute mark, Beck adds in some aggressive, almost guitar-riff-like distorted piano parts to close out the song.
Perhaps at some point, Beck will release these songs in a more fixed form, we can't complain too much since any Beck is better than no Beck… that is, as long as you can read sheet music.
"Touch the People"