Clever Covers: Beck Reimagines Bowie

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If you read my last post about The Piano Guys, you saw how two ambitious musicians worked together to cover popular tunes on a small scale, using nothing more than a piano and cello. Today, we take a 180 degree turn — and talk about a cover tune on the biggest scale imaginable…

170 musicians total — a rock band, a symphony orchestra, a jazz band, a drumline, a concert choir, a gospel choir, a Swiss yodeler, Chinese erhu ensemble and a Caribbean pan percussion outfit: This is what guitarist Beck Hansen envisioned and very recently made into a reality.

Beck, along with director Chris Milk, collaborated with one seemingly basic goal in mind, to essentially “reimagine” David Bowie’s 1977 tune “Sound and Vision” — and reimagine it is exactly what they did. “Hello, Again” was several years in the making, and was finally made a reality less than two weeks ago. Beck’s goal was to bring together a plethora of musical ensembles, all from distinct and different genres, and to incorporate each and every one of them into a rendition of this older, popular work. What is truly exceptional about this live performance is how each different musical group present is exposed for some time, and is clearly featured at various points throughout the work.

The reimagining didn’t stop there. Beck wanted to incorporate a second aspect into this new work of his — a performance aspect. This idea was so named the 360° Experience. In Beck’s own words, his goal was to not only integrate the audience, but to literally immerse them, “Make them a part of the performance.” To achieve this, a circular arena containing three rings was constructed and chosen as the site for this performance. In the innermost ring is a small center stage on which Beck performs. The second ring consists of the audience members, and the outermost ring consists of the 170 musicians, in their respective ensembles.

The concert was additionally captured with 360-degree cameras and binaural microphones, allowing online viewers to have the opportunity to experience the show from any and every angle and location throughout the arena.

In reflecting on his efforts for this colossal undertaking, Beck said, “The idea of being able to assemble a huge number of musicians to play a piece of music —I’ve never had anything like that come my way, and it probably won’t again.”

The 360° Experience was released online on February 10, and can be seen at www.hello-again.com

Check out David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision” (Original):

And follow-up with Beck’s cover:

Contact Nick Cotter at [email protected].