Beck Spaces Out On Folk-Styled New Album

Fall release said to feature traditional rock instrumentation as well as sitars and keyboards.

Beck -- the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and sound collagist -- has been referring to the music on his upcoming album, Mutations (Oct. 20), as "space-age folk-rock."

According to a representative at Geffen Records, the label that has released Beck's most successful recordings, the artist couldn't have picked a more accurate description.

"The rumors ... are totally true," Geffen Records publicist Dennis Dennehy said Monday. "It has this warped, spacey sensibility that's applied to classic folk songs."

Although the album features such traditional rock instrumentation as guitars, bass and drums, it also features organs, keyboards and Indian sitars, which help lend a spacey yet organic feel to some songs, according to Dennehy. Among the tracks are "Bottle of Blues," "Sing It Again" and "Cold Brains."

It shouldn't be too radical a move, however, for the 28-year-old Beck, who has built his reputation by melding hip-hop beats, folk roots and R&B samples into subversive pop music.

Mutations, which had been scheduled for release on the indie label Bong Load until last week, was switched to Geffen Records with little explanation from either side. Because Geffen has been adamant about the album not being Beck's official follow-up to his Grammy-winning 1996 release, Odelay!, there are currently no plans to cull a single or video from Mutations.

Produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's OK Computer), the effort is being touted as following more closely the musical sensibilities of One Foot In the Grave, Beck's 1994 acoustic-blues album, than his sample-heavy pop album Odelay!. "Since Odelay! was on a grander scale than [Beck's breakthrough 1994 album] Mellow Gold, this album is being thought of as a grander-scale follow-up to One Foot in the Grave," Dennehy said.

It does not feature any of the sampling or electronic effects that fueled many of the experimental songs on Odelay!, but Mutations was recorded with members of the touring band that Beck has been working with for several years: Justin Meldal-Johnsen (bass), Smokey Hormel (guitar), Joey Waronker (drums) and Roger Manning (keyboards/percussion).

Bong Load co-founder Tom Rothrock revealed that Mutations was recorded live in the studio with Beck's band.

"It's not a live record, not a record from the road," Rothrock said. "But unlike Mellow Gold and Odelay!, there was a whole band set up at once, performing the songs live in the studio. It has a different feel because of that. And it has a different feel from One Foot In the Grave and [1994's] Stereopathetic Soulmanure 'cause he used the musicians he knows best, his touring band."

The track listing for Mutations is: "Cold Brains," "Nobody's Fault But My Own," "Lazy Flies," "Canceled Check," "We Live Again," "Tropicalia," "Dead Melodies," "Bottle of Blues," "O Maria," "Sing It Again" and "Static."