Beck: Sea Change
Other // SACD // $19.99 // March 1, 2002
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 10, 2003
M U S I C
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version

The Music:

1. The Golden Age
2. Paper Tiger
3. Guess I'm Doin' Fine
4. Lonesome Tears
5. Lost Cause
6. Nothing I Haven't Seen
7. All In Your Mind
8. Round The Bend
9. Already Dead
10. Sunday Sun
11. Little One
12. Side Of The Road

* Can only be played on SACD players. No CD layer is included.


The DVD

SOUND: Beck's "Sea Change" is presented by Geffen in DSD 2.0 and 5.1 presentations on this SACD. The 5.1 mix is done by "Godfather of Surround Music" Elliot Scheiner, and it's really one of his most enjoyable mixes. It also happens to be one of Beck's. The talented singer occasionally throws an accoustic curveball in-between more up-tempo albums (see also "Mutations", "One Foot in the Grave"), but this is really the singer at his most mature. Although some of the lyrics may show Beck at his darkest ("Already Dead", not exactly a happy tune), his always-interesting lyrics are surrounded by beautiful instrumentals (see the orchestral backing of "Paper Tiger") that provide a ray of hope for the otherwise somber mood. Although more melancholy than Beck's probably ever been, the instrumentals throughout the album are a perfect pairing with the lyrics and Beck's low-key vocals. What could have been dark and depressing is instead beautiful, haunting and uplifting. Although I've always appreciated Beck's ability to craft an fabulously catchy experimental electronic landscape around his funky lyrics, this

Elliot Scheiner's 5.1 mix does a very fine job lightly extending the music outward into the room. The subtle mix is certainly appropriate for the folk/light rock material, but it makes one wonder what Schneiner could do with one of Beck's more experimental/up-tempo productions such as "Mellow Gold" or "Midnite Vultures". For "Sea Change", the surrounds usually provide noticable, discrete instrumentals, but occasionally remain subtle or silent. Beck's vocals for "It's All In Your Mind" remain alone in the front speakers for a moment or two during the opening of the songs, before the strings and other instrumentals (the supporting guitar of "Side of the Road" in one the surrounds) enter in the rear speakers. Aside from a few instances, the surrounds provide superb envelopment without directing one's attention to them.

Although the 5.1 mix on this SACD is really stellar, those with two-channel systems will likely find the stereo presentation on this SACD to be perfectly enjoyable. Although of course not as spread out and distinct as the 5.1 presentation, the album's subtle details are still well-captured on the stereo offering, with Beck's vocals and the various instrumentals and atmospheric sounds balanced nicely.

Low-key folk with some orchestral and electronic backing would not suggest a title that really shows off the SACD format, but "Sea Change" certainly does show the kind of sound quality that the format can provide. Every pluck of every guitar string is clearly audible, and has a remarkably realistic, in-room sound. The orchestal backing sounds full and lush, while Beck's vocals cleanly float from the front speakers. It may also help that I don't remember some of Beck's earlier accoustic/electronic work sounding quite this well-recorded.

Final Thoughts: Beck's "Sea Change" was a terrific surprise. Although I've been more familiar with his more up-tempo work, his moody lyrics here are perfectly complimented by beautiful, lush and memorable instrumentals that are involving and push the songs forward. Although I've been a fan of much of his different, past work, I have to say this is the most impressive work I've heard from him yet. The SACD not only boasts fantastic sound quality, but a wonderful 5.1 mix by Elliot Scheiner that perfectly captures the mood and atmosphere of the music. Also, the price is right - this SACD can generally be found for between $13.99-16.99. Highly recommended.



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