By Will Hermes
October 02, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Information


”Little worse for wear,” raps Beck on the shambling opener of his new album, ”but I’m wearing it well.” Very well, in fact. Last year’s Guero debuted at No. 2 on the charts. And if the CD release glut kept it from making a more lasting impact, perhaps that inspired The Information, a swarming, psychedelic set partly about data overload.

No one’s better suited to shape such a project than Nigel Godrich, producer of Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A, two landmarks of data-overload art. Here, he and Beck pump bleeps, blips, samples, scratches, voices, telephone noises, and kalimbas into songs soaked in drones and dub reverb. It’s a sonic tour de force, and Beck seems comfortable in the info-storm, which he presents not as dystopia or utopia, but as a restless middle ground, like Dante’s limbo, or America in 2006. The Information clearly aspires to be a self-aware update of dorm-room bong-hit soundtracks like The Dark Side of the Moon or OK Computer, right down to the cryptic, spaced-out outro (voiced by director Spike Jonze and author Dave Eggers). It earns those comparisons. At a time when freaky ’60s music is being revived with varying levels of aesthetic discernment (Espers, Comets on Fire), Beck manages to drink the psychedelic Kool-Aid without losing his wits in the process.

The Information

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