Today (February 25) marks the release of Beck's latest full-length, Morning Phase, his first proper album since 2008's Modern Guilt. In the six years since that prior record, the songwriter took on a diverse assortment of projects, ranging from collaborative covers albums, music for films and videogames, production work and much more. Perhaps the most buzzed about of his many projects was Song Reader, his collection of sheet music for 20 unrecorded songs. While those songs haven't been properly released in audio form, this may eventually change.
"We've been working on a compilation of other people recording the songs," Beck reveals Exclaim!
He adds that he may release two compilations, "One with name people, and then one made by fans."
Beck doesn't, however, plan to record any of material himself. The material was intended be "a meditation on songwriting tradition and this idea of the American Songbook," and he reflects, "Some of the songs are kind of writing exercises and genres exercises. A kind of greater point — not necessarily for the song to be worthy on its own merit."
Fans shouldn't hold their breath for the planned compilations to come out anytime soon, though, since Beck confesses, "I'm not sure where that's at right now."
For now, his focus is elsewhere, since he's been working on another album to follow up Morning Phase.
"I hazard to say anything specific because I'm not really sure what's going to end up on the record," he says in regards to the sessions. "I'm still finding what it is. I'm trying to make songs that work for the live show, so they're more uptempo."
He started the album about a year ago, pausing partway through to record and release Morning Phase.
Some of the new songs have been recorded with his band, but he adds, "I'm mostly working on my own, or with somebody else." He doesn't specify who this "somebody else" is, but shortly after our conversation, reports emerged that he is working with mega-producer Pharrell Williams.
What's more, we may eventually see some more material from the sessions that produced last year's singles "Defriended," "I Won't Be Long" and "Gimme."
Beck explains, "The summer singles were recorded in 2008/2009. They're from a record that I ended up not releasing, so I was trying to figure out what to do with the songs for a while. There's other songs that are coming out, I've just been busy with this [Morning Phase] record."
In other words, Morning Phase is just the beginning of the material that fans can expect to hear from Beck in the not-too-distant future.