First, before I get into this review I want to share a little story about my live concert experiences (because it does relate to this review). My first, legit, concert I ever attended was in 2002 and it was Beck and the Flaming Lips on the Sea Change tour. Prior live musical experiences before 2002 were friends bands in garages, and those anti drug speaker/cover bands that travel around and perform at Junior High and High Schools to tell who how evil drugs are and then proceed to do horrible covers of hair metal/grunge songs which ironically were written by probably the biggest drug users of them all.. Rock stars!
So, seeing Beck live in 2002 was a revelation. It was awesome. Beck performed at an amphitheater here in Southern California. Huntington Beach actually. Beck’s performance was stripped down and acoustic until he played his other songs that were not acoustic and stripped down. The Flaming Lips opened the show and then performed as his backing band as well. This show also pretty much sealed my fate as a Flaming Lips fan. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots had just came out and it was just a great time to be a fan of both bands at that time. It’s nearly been 12 years ago now. How the time flies.
Morning Phase opens with a 40 second string orchestration intro piece called “Cycle” and then the song “Morning” kicks in with a familiar acoustic chord sequence that calls back to Sea Change’s “The Golden Age” and as anyone who has already read anything about Morning Phase; it makes sense because this album is basically a companion piece to Sea Change. It is a short album, clocking in around 47 minutes and released on one LP. This album really is one of those “has to be heard on vinyl” albums. I am not sure, yet, who mastered it*, but it was pressed at Pallas. My copy is flat, devoid of any defects. But back to the mastering, there is plenty of instrument separation and the instruments, especially guitar, sound incredibly life like as if Beck is performing in front of you (given your system setup of course). This is one of those albums that reminds me why I like vinyl.
I wouldn’t say Morning Phase is better than Sea Change. It is on the same level, and it really doesn’t need to be.
*Well I eventually took a look at the liner notes and Morning Phase was mastered by none other than Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering. There you go!