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Reviews: Beck: Sea Change

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Reviews: 24

Review by JW April 30, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
If you like David Sylvian you stand a good chance of liking this one - a lot! Not that Beck is not an original artist in his own right. The album definitely has its own signature. But just take one listen to "Round The Bend" and the comparison with Sylvian is unmistakable. Beck has put together a great album full of acoustic rock songs, all sporting impressive soundscapes. There is a lot of music here and the recording quality is outstanding, allowing you to hear deep into the soundstage. Michael Fremer (musicangle.com) compared him to Nick Drake. To form your opinion you should read his review of the album as well.

This is acoustic guitar (country)rock music, enhanced by massive string arrangements and many moments where Beck is able to evoke images drenched in mystery. It's an interesting combination with many surprising twists and turns.

It took me a while to order this SACD. I had never heard of Beck and somehow 'forgot' about the existence of this album. I can tell you that this has turned into one of my better SACD's in all respects - very nice late night listening music as well..

If you want to know more background check out Becks discography here: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&uid=7:09:49|AM&sql=B2zvyxdjbjoly.

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Review by ddarch88 April 23, 2003 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is an amazing sacd in Multi-channel format. I would venture to say it is the first I have heard which truly takes advantage of the format. (A close second is DSOTM) I love the overall feel of an early seventies English folk album coupled with all of the mixing/sampling/electronica. More than any other SACD, this one creates a different sonic atmosphere with each song. My favorite cuts are "The Golden Age", "Lost Cause", and "Guess I am doing Fine." The truly sonic standout for me though is "It's all in your mind" in which the last forty-five seconds is stunning in MCH. The only complaint I have is the "sameiness" of some of the material...almost everything is slow to mid-tempo. Nothing rocks out. Also, if you don't know Beck, his lyrics are often very dark, so don't listen if you're already on anti-depressants:-) In my opinion, everyone who owns a MCH setup should own this sacd.

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Review by unclefesto April 27, 2003 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
One of the best pieces of music I have heard in years. Nuff Said!

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Review by Rinkrat May 18, 2003 (11 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I just got an SACD player and have been picking up a few discs including this one, I've had a few hits and more misses. I like the Stones remasters and of coutse Pink Floyd DSOTM, but I have to admit, THIS is my favorite disc so far. On first listening I could hardly believe it was Beck. There is no rap or even commercial tunes. it is one of the most laid back crosses between folk and country that you'll ever hear. What makes it so great is the multi-channel production. The strings are lavish and the synth noises add a quirkiness that brings it all together. The songs are well written and they worm their way into your skull by about the third listening.

I've found some great remasters of old CD's on SACD and I've found some new music that I can tolerate only because it's an SACD, but this is the first SACD that I've found that is impressive new music AND has incredible sound. In fact it's the perfect one to show off what it's all about.

Discs like this one are the reason why I bought the player. I hope there are more out there.

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Review by Tom May 27, 2003 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A pleasant surprise for both sonics and presentation. It's now one of my top 10 favorates.

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Review by projectmayhem325 July 21, 2003 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I Have seen Beck on his Sea Change tour twice now and I think that hearing this SACD is a close second to being 5 rows away from the man himself, and significantly better than seeing him in a big venue. I had the CD version, and I didn't know what the engineers could do to an album like Sea Change to make it Multi-Channel worth while and interesting, but tey used the discrete channels to their fullest advantage. I am still a bit confused by the difference on song 9: Already Dead. The lyrics are just slightly different at 1:05, no big deal, but noticable to someone who has listened to the album almost 100 times. None the less, a necessity for anyone starting an SACD collection

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Review by greendiamond September 2, 2003 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Rinkrat got it just right -- this is the only SACD that I have that combines great new music with a five star surround mix. I was not a Beck fan before -- had only listened to some of "Odelay"on a listening station and wondered what all the critics were so excited about. The dearth of good rock music on multichannel sacd led me to give this one a try and I'm very glad I did. Second only to DSOTM as a way to demonstrate your multichannel setup to anyone who is not a committed classical music fanatic.

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Review by Luffy September 4, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well I got this disc a while ago after reading the reviews here. I have to agree that the disc is sonically impressive, especially the surround mix. I definately recommend this disc as the songs are really nice and calming and the mix is just great. I just wanted to note the disc is rather mellow (the whole thing), so I couldn't give the disc a 5 star rating for the performance because I like a bit more variety with my music so it is more of a personal taste.

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Review by Metoo September 9, 2004 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is what surround mixes should sound like! period.

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Review by DrOctodivx October 24, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This disc is crystal clear and uses all 5.1 speakers fully but tastefully. The music itself is quite good, and I expect to be listening to this album with some frequency. I recommend this disck in general to most listeners with broad tastes, though it is not for everyone, especially if you prefer more upbeat music.

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Review by sthebkrman February 26, 2005 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Simply Amazing! This is one of those CDs you listen to 100 times and never hear the same thing twice. There is so much going on with the synthesizers and bells. It is so spacious. I like Beck's rockier stuff but this just shows what a genius he is. He makes this mellow music so interesting you cannot stop listening to it. It will really show off your system, especially the bells and the bass notes that drop to a bottomless pit.

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Review by Rob March 4, 2005 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Some of the best sonics I have heard in multi channel. Very mellow music. Perfect for a rainy afternoon. I have listened to it at least 30 times and never have tired of it. Even if you don't think you like Beck you should check this out. It is like a mellow version of Mutations

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Review by mindovermatter March 10, 2005 (1 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The best depression you can buy on surround. It's a great album and sounds great too.

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Review by dbfarr63 May 15, 2005 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I heard a friends copy of the cd and thought it was okay. This was way before sacd came on the market. The same friend gave me a copy of the sacd and I was hooked. This really is a great multichannel disc. The sound is perfect and the music is brilliant. I can see the comparisons being made with Nick Drake as I have recently become a fan of his music. I hadn't heard of Beck before this, but I will be looking out for more of his work. One of the best I've got.

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Review by FivePointOne May 17, 2005 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I'd give the MCH sonics 6 stars if I could. This is one of the discs you can use to show off your 5.1 setup. Light years better than the conventional redbook, the sound engineering is quite tasty and always surprising. Put this on, and you'll feel enveloped by the music. It's that good. It's not your average Beck CD...very mellow, supposedly after a breakup. Still, it's got plenty of melodic hooks around which the 5.1 effects float.

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Review by captain May 30, 2005 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
One of my favourite SACDs. This album may take a few listens to get into but well worth it when you do. Phenomenal songs, arrangements, vocals and sound. A huge improvement over the conventional CD. Highest possible recommendation. I have not heard the multichannel mix

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Review by Beck June 18, 2005 (6 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I simply had to add my two cents worth: I had never heard of this album but enjoy several others by Beck (hence my Moniker). I bought this for the sonics after reading reviews, expecting it to be a good disc to go shopping for speakers with...well was I surprised!. This has become a favourite in a hurry. I liked it so much I also bought the DVD-Audio version just to compare the two formats. Differences are subtle, but I thoroughly enjoyed both (and the videos on the DVD edition)

This album is an artist masterpiece: honest, heartfelt, beautifully produced and masterfully written. I was so used to thinking of Beck as an electronic artist and after this album, I simply think of him as a brilliant artists...period.

What else can I say? Every one I've played this album to, who's had a few minutes to seriously listen to it has enjoyed it. This came from being far off my radar to a top 10 disc after a few listens.

Highly recommended for content and the sonics are unsurpassed for a recording in this genre.

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Review by colewade January 12, 2006 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I have enjoyed this extraordinary album on CD format since it was released thee years ago. Even in that format the album sounded very good. Beck must have sunk to the lowest depths to commune with some sort of higher power making this one. It is that good, and that listenable even three years later. Since many tracks from the album rank high on my play list even now, this was an excellent album to truly compare formats. The multi-channel SACD version wins hands down in this case. The format itself lends itself nicely to Beck’s unique artistry. It greatly improves a recording I was already quite happy with.

Since the record companies don’t seem to be providing new non-classical releases in SACD, I would love to see independent alt - rock bands push demand for this technology through the roof through their own efforts. I suppose money is the problem. Despite the “fussy” nature and complexity of this new technology, Beck’s, Sea Change and Roxy Music’s, Avalon presents undeniable proof for me that SACD format itself was worthy the investment for any kind of music. Awesome and original tunes, perfect delivery, and astounding acoustics are the three best reasons to buy any commercially recorded music and it certainly true for this one. Buy it!

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Review by CaryGrant March 15, 2006 (4 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
For me, this is one of those SACDs I bought and listen to because of the sound quality, not because the music really grabs me. If there was more rock/pop SACD selection, I wouldn't have purchased this album. The sound is truly impressive, and certainly worth a few listens to see if you like the style, which is very mellow and even down at times.

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Review by The Rang August 25, 2007 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This recording seems to be a love it or hate it proposition.

Sadly I must put myself in the latter category.
The sonics are fine, but I don't find them as outstanding as others do.

And the music is dreadfully dreary IMHO, the tempo varies little from track to track.

Maybe I'm missing something, and as a Beck fan I will give this disc another chance, but my frst impression (which usually sticks) is not good.

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Review by analogue March 3, 2009 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Several years ago I would not have believed that this album was as terrific as it is.I would never have bought this kind of music.
Apparently Beck strayed away from his usual style and tried something new. That "something new" makes for a very terrific album.

For one it is highly atmospheric almost moody at times. It still holds it's pop oriented roots to be sure but it is much more mature and adult friendly. That's probably why songs from this compilation are rarely heard on the radio.

The sound quality is shockingly good. It's easy to imagine this being a low rez sacd transfer that is excessively loud and horribly bright. But this has spectacular sound. It was recorded on magnetic tape with very good skill behind the scenes. Some music lovers say that this is an audiophile rock album. I won't argue cause it sounds terrific.

It's very warm, powerful and dynamic, rich in sound scapes and a wide sound stage for a rock album. You really feel the music on this sacd. Beck's voice is realistic and stands out with a sort of melancholy charm.

This album contains mostly slow tracks that are rich in guitar and keyboards. It can have a subtle country feel to some songs but the undercurrent of the entire album is always this atmospheric layering of dense mood. This is very much a night time rock album if you catch my meaning. Especially if you are driving.
The mood and sound of this sacd overtakes you. You just have to like the mood.


Highly recommended. This is a very excellent album.

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Review by DPSydBerry April 27, 2011 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I had never knowingly heard anything by Beck before, so I auditioned this album in mp3 form to see if it lived up to the reviews on here.

My first impression was (as someone else has commented) that everything was a bit of a dirge and all of the songs were pretty much the same tempo. However...the recorded sound was beautiful and I thought I'd "just give it another listen" and found myself slowly getting drawn into the music. After a few more plays I was hooked. In fact I've reached the point where I no longer think of the songs as gloomy, but soothing:-)

"Better get the SACD then," I thought; little realising what I had let myself in for...

There will be people out there who bought this for £15.99 when it was released, or picked it up for £6.99 in a bargain bin in their local HMV 6 months later, or found it in a junk shop for 50p (next to Roxy Music's 'Avalon' for 25p) last week. I, as I am rapidly coming to realise is my lot in life with regard to SACD purchases, am not going to be one of those people. Several weeks of searching on Ebay turned up nothing except tumbleweed blowing in the wind, whilst a visit to Amazon revealed an apoplexy-inducing 'available from this seller' price barely short of three figures. So when a buy-it-now copy recently turned up on Ebay for less than £60 I did the only sensible thing and raided the piggy bank for next month's food money. After all we can always eat cheese for a month or two:-)

And by jingo it was money well spent! This disc is sonic heaven. I am with the majority here - this is a glorious showcase for what M/C SACD should sound like. The production is immaculate - every guitar sound perfectly chosen, every strange synth noise perfectly judged and placed along with the sublime orchestration. The surrounds are used in a splendidly creative way and the *sound* is fabulous - all of those characteristics I have come to associate with SACD playback are here; the sense of 'openness' around the instruments, that extra sense of detail on guitar strums and picking, that extra bit of thwack and tonal depth to percussion sounds, the 'you could almost fall forward into it' sumptuousness of the orchestral sound and that extra bit of depth and presence to the bass playing.

If you can find a copy, I strongly recommend this as a truly magical recording.

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Review by collinmaillard December 17, 2011 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This album fully illustrates what the term "musical coherence" means. The atmosphere that is created here through SACD technology simply takes you out of this world and carries you beyond what your imagination thought music could ever do. "End of the day" is a great example, among others. Though quite expensive, I would suggest you to track them on the internet or in local shops, as long as it is possible.
You will discover or rediscover a major recording, though somehow dull, but incredibly attractive. Beck's voice also shows that mood may be more efficient than power to convey emotions.
Sonics are amazing, lyrics good and arrangements awesome.
OMG !

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Review by alexandru27 August 23, 2015 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Never listened to Beck before, and I didn't like his style (at least on this disk), it's way too mellow and down for my taste - and hey, I'm a very long time Pink Floyd fan!
I was left with the impression that either the guy was on a bottom level of inspiration when composing the songs on Sea Change, or that he just doesnt't have much to offer, musically. Of course, the latter opinion might irritate his fans, and do take it with a grain of salt, as, like I said, I haven't listened to other of his albums.

Sonically though, it's another matter: the multichannel part offers an excellent ambiance, all instruments being rendered with a precise spatial placement around the listener, and their sounding is very accurate and pleasant.

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