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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beck: A Western Harvest Field By Moonlight


1) Totally Confused; 2) Mayonaise Salad; 3) Gettin' Home; 4) Blackfire Choked Our Death; 5) Feel Like A Piece Of Shit (Mind Control); 6) She Is All (Gimme Something To Eat); 7) Pinefresh; 8) Lampshade; 9) Feel Like A Piece Of Shit (Crossover Potential); 10) Mango (Vader Rocks!); 11) Feel Like A Piece Of Shit (Cheetos Time!); 12) Styro­foam Chicken (Quality Time).

A bit too long for a proper EP, seriously too short for a proper LP, this release probably deserves only a brief mention, mostly for housing Beck's first ever decently produced composition — a new version of ʽTotally Confusedʼ, with proper acoustic guitar, bass, percussion, and even some moody (but seemingly uncredited) female backup vocals for the sake of extra richness of experi­ence. It was already one of the most meaningful tracks on Golden Feelings, and here its lazy loser vibe is expanded with a helpful wave of tenderness. Other than that, this humble EP, limi­ted to 7,000 copies upon initial release (but each with its own unique finger-painting!), consists of the following audio elements:

— two more acoustic folk songs: ʽGettin' Homeʼ is the exact same version as the one on Golden Feelings, and ʽLampshadeʼ is a newly written guitar-and-harmonica ode to killing time that all the Jeff Lebowskis in the world would find very easy to identify with;

— three versions of the same, slightly disturbing, electronic loop (ʽFeel Like A Piece Of Shitʼ) taken at different speeds in order to illustrate the differences between different feelings of dif­ferent types of pieces of shit (my personal interpretation; I'm pretty sure there might be others, but who in his right mind would really bother?);

— several short pieces of randomized stuffing, including what sounds like absent-minded tuning prior to launching into a Spanish serenade (ʽPinefreshʼ), what sounds like a one-minute tribute to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music (ʽMayonaise Saladʼ), what sounds like an attempt at acoustic-based psychedelic folk mood piece (ʽMangoʼ), and what sounds like a never-ending noise loop (on the vinyl version) reminding you to switch off your turntable (ʽStyrofoam Chickenʼ).

In other words, it's just one of those «freedom-asserting» indie releases whose only function is of a reputational nature. It takes the guy exactly twenty minutes to let us know that (a) he will not be pigeonholed; (b) he will neither shy away from recording fart noises if his individuality requires such an act, nor from trying to sell them to us; (c) he does have talent, but it is entirely up to him if he wants or does not want to make use of it at any particular time. I get the message all right, but this time, I wouldn't let it fool me into declining a thumbs down reaction, even if it means lapsing back into old boring predictability. Serious Beck aficionados will need this to complete their collections — psychiatrists might need this as promising research material — the rest of us hardly need think of it even in terms of bare curiosity.


  1. I love Beck's output up until 2006's the Information. However, the stuff before he had any sort of record deal is less than mediocre. This album is so boring!

  2. I'm very happy that you finally get to Beck. I don't really like his indie stuff. Once the indie stuff is over, he has a pretty good run from 1994's Mellow Gold to 2005's Guero.

  3. Good to see you reviewing the early Beck albums. I cherish most of his early stuff, even Golden Feelings and his high school album "Banjo Story". I do agree that this album is mostly useless, though I do like Lampshade. My favorites are Stereopathetic Soulmanure, Mellow Gold and especially One Foot in the Grave. I'm probably one of the few people who thinks Odelay is a huge step down from Mellow Gold. The production gets sterile and the lyrics go from being nonsensical in a creative, whimsical way to just being plain meaningless.