Beck – Morning Phase – Best Music to Write to
When work is stressing me out I need music that not only allows me to work, but will also give me an extra push. An album that I can fully immerse myself in, that can change my mental state, is worth an extra thousand words to me. The words come out, and I don’t feel the passage of time. Beck’s voice, harmonies, warm guitar, bass, and acoustic arrangements succeed calming and taking me to that place. This album is a companion piece to Sea Change released in 2002, and written after the breakup of a long term relationship. Some of the same musicians appear in the line up, as although Sea Change wasn’t released until 2014, recording began in 2005.
Although there are a few standout tracks on Morning Phase, it retains an even feeling throughout – like most music I like to work to. There is no doubt Beck is an outstanding performer and musician, but his performance does not dominate my workspace. There is plenty of room for me to overlay it with whatever I am working on. More importantly, this feeling persists when played at louder volumes.
Yes, but not abrasive lyrics. Beck has a warm, soothing voice that is complemented by smooth arrangements. I find it easy to listen to his voice – another instrument in his mood ensemble. My only concern is that I may be biased as I have listened to a lot of Beck over time.
Beck is a specialist in the mood album and has progressed through an eclectic range of styles. It’s a folk album at heart. Morning Phase is no exception, but this is the kind of Beck album for the writer-of-any-style. While I do not recommend all Beck albums, this one puts me into a relaxed mood – ideal for immersing myself in whatever I’m working on. There is a sad quality to this music which makes me feel sombre but focussed. Likewise, this an ideal album for an intimate dinner or curling up on the couch with a nice glass of wine or three.
Best music to write to
I could write anything while I listen to this. It might be difficult to write a fight or chase scene, but it’s well-suited to writing fiction or non-fiction. I’m finding it hard to describe exactly what writing mood it’s most compatible with but, more than anything, it puts me in a contemplative, internal space that makes it easy to block out the troubles of the world, and to be present in the moment.
I hesitate to compare this to Nick Drake because it has a far more polished, American feel. This is the album of a performer who is confident in his musicality, a performer who has still has the ability to surprise.
Beck has been lauded as a musical wunderkind, specialising in genre-hopping sonic collages of beats, soul, country, and everything in between. His earliest hit was his 1994 track, I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me. Other performers such as Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne have branded him a d**k – a label Beck has refuted as something of a misunderstanding and that was due to an illness that kept him subdued during their tour. What is certain is that Beck is a virtuoso, but what is not so sure is that someone who can make such fine music is a d**k. His musically eclectic style is no doubt influenced by his visual artist mother, Bibbe Hansen (one of Andy Warhol’s moviestars), and by prolific composer and arranger David Campbell.
Where can I buy it, and in what formats?
You can buy Morning Phase pretty much everywhere at the moment. For audiophiles who prefer vinyl, you had better get in quick. Most Beck albums don’t get re-released on vinyl after the initial pressings. I was sadly disappointed when I tried to get the earlier album Sea Change in this format.
For me, a winner. I rarely like lyrics in a writing album, but these ones are soothing rather than demanding.