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Album of the Week: Beck - Hyperspace

For the best part of 30 years now, Beck Hansen – better known to most simply as Beck – has been a unique presence on the global music scene. Often broadly defined as 'alternative rock' in the early years of his career, Beck has always been a difficult artist to classify, his music incorporating almost every style you could name in a collage of samples and live performances.

His first couple of albums were low-key, lo-fi affairs released on small indie labels but when his song 'Loser' began to get airplay in the U.S., his talents were brought to the attention of David Geffen, whose record label signed him up and released his major label debut Mellow Gold.

While he was initially pigeonholed as one of the key players in the 'slacker' movement of the mid-1990s that included the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and other figures such as the filmmakers Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith, his output over the last couple of decades has shown Beck to be something of a chameleon, shifting styles from one record to the next while still managing to create a sound all of his own.

In addition to the work released under his own name, Beck has also worked as a producer for the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg and former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, as well working on collaborations with a broad range of artists from Childish Gambino to Philip Glass.

His last two albums, 2014's Morning Phase and 2017's Colors, could scarcely have been further apart in terms of both style and substance, but both scooped up their share of Grammy awards, the former being named Album of the Year while the latter was awarded Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album. In the case of Colors, at least some of the credit for that recognition should go to producer Greg Kurstin, with whom Beck struck up a winning partnership to create an album much more immediate and accessible than its predecessor.

Its follow-up, Hyperspace, arrives in stores today and while Kurstin does make a contribution on album deep cut 'See Through', for the most part Hyperspace has been the result of working with another high-profile producer, Pharrell Williams. Their collaboration initially came about when Williams asked Beck to contribute to the last N.E.R.D. album and although their original plan, according to Beck, was only to work together on “a single or an EP”, their partnership soon proved to be fruitful enough to produce a whole album's worth of material.

Other contributors to Beck's latest album include Sky Ferreira, who appears on 'Die Waiting', and Terrell Hines, who pops up on the album's title track.


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