Beck Goes Interactive with His Latest Music

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 15 2012 12:17 PM

Beck Goes Interactive

Beck in Los Angeles
Beck performs in Los Angeles in 2010.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for MOCA.

In his latest projects, Beck isn’t so interested in playing music as in having you play it. Last week he revealed that his next album will be a collection of sheet music. And his latest release is a video game score.

Music sites, understandably, have presented these videos simply as new music from Beck. Some fans were frustrated by news of the sheet-music release, and really just want to hear Beck sing some new tunes. But this video game score is more than that. As you can see in the videos below, Sound Shapes is a platformer governed by synesthesia: Whatever happens in the music also happens in the world of the game. So instead of just following along, as in games like Guitar Hero, your job is to immerse yourself in the music and find a way to navigate through it.

Though I haven’t played the game yet, the experience looks wonderful. And the music presents exactly the kinds of soundscapes you’d want to lose yourself in. In addition to these three new compositions from Beck, Sound Shapes also features music from electronic artists like Deadmau5 and I Am Robot and Proud. It also includes a music-maker-cum-level-designer with which you can create your own soundscapes. And reviews for all these features are strong. Some, I’m sure, would prefer that Beck just put out a new CD. But after enjoying Björk’s dazzling iPad apps and giddily fun music-makers like Incredibox, I can’t wait to see more music released like this.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate senior editor. He writes and edits for Slate’s culture blog, Brow Beat.

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