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High Five

Beck’s ‘Song Reader’ and Sarah Rabdau

Kelly Davidson

Last year Beck debuted a project that bolstered his reputation as one of indie rock’s true mavericks. “Song Reader” was a sheet-music album, meaning someone had to perform it to hear it. It came with a tag line of sorts on its website: “Only you can bring Beck Hansen’s ‘Song Reader’ to life.”

More than 150 local musicians and dancers are doing just that next week with a live performance of the album from start to finish. Singer-songwriter Sarah Rabdau is among the participants and recently weighed in on five reasons why Beck is a musical genius.

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1. Cross-hybridization. “He was one of the first ‘archival’ artists in pop music, meaning he used his extensive knowledge in all types of music to effectively mix genres (like hip-hop and country) and create his own unique sound.”

2. Sense of humor. “His lyrical and musical sense of humor is playful, blatant, and absolutely charming in its wit and sense of levity.”

3. For the love of it. “It’s refreshing to know that people like him are still willing to create for the love of making something, even if it’s commercially unviable. Who makes an album of sheet music that most people can’t hear because they don’t read music? Beck does.”

4. Collaborations. “In 2009 and ’10 he did a series on his website called Record Club, in which he collaborated with the likes of St. Vincent, MGMT, Jamie Lidell, and Wilco to re-create famous albums in one day.”

5. Fearlessness. “He’s unafraid to try things, like recently reimagining Bowie’s ‘Sound and Vision’ on three rotating stages, or using a dining room table setup as an instrument in live performances.”

“Song Reader” will be performed at the Somerville Theatre on Thursday, 8 p.m. Tickets: $24. 617-625-5700, www.somervilletheatreonline
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