Beck Dons Folk And Country-Western Hats For "Mutations"

Trading in his Amiga 500 computer for a beat-up acoustic guitar, Beck's new album, "Mutations," finds the singer-songwriter returning to the folk-based roots he demonstrated on his 1994 indie release, "One Foot in the Grave."

Beck and his touring band huddled with Radiohead's "OK Computer" producer, Nigel Godrich, and cut "Mutations" during a two-week stint right after finishing up its two loud and exhausting years on the road in support of 1997's Grammy-winning release, "Odelay."

Because of the new record's more restrained sound and production values, "Mutations" -- which finds the singer belting out throaty country tunes and experimenting with a little Latino-flavored bossa nova -- isn't being touted as Beck's "official" follow-up to "Odelay."

But as he told MTV's Kurt Loder, that really doesn't make the new album any less Beck-ish than his previous works. "These are songs that have been marinating for the last four years," Beck said, "they've just been sitting

in the scrapbook."

According to Beck, the weary, multi-directional tone of "Mutations" was borne out of the shared experiences with his band while on the road, where they would often joke about the kinds of laid-back styles they wanted to use and fuse for a very different sort of sonic pastiche.

"It was really a culmination of the gentlemen in my band of playing together," Beck said, "our interests and things we talked about doing [during the tour], and it all sort of happened."

"What sorts of things did you talk about," Loder asked, "what did you want to do?"

"Some dainty-a** harpsichord playing," he replied, "cause our show is fairly bombastic and aggressive, and I think after being on the road for so long and doing that kind of thing, we were very hungry to go in and do something very gentle and delicate."

Beck is currently working on his next album, which he hopes to release in January. For more on our interview with the pioneering

performer who's opted to sift through the past darkly, check out this week's MTV News Online feature, coming on Friday.