As we all know, the phonograph destroyed American civilization when it killed off the sheet music industry in the 19th century, but famous recording artist Beck plans to reverse our decline so we can all relive the glory days of music. Beck has teamed up with McSweeney's for his upcoming December release, Song Reader, which includes twenty songs, 18 of which feature original lyrics, that have never been released or recorded. Instead of performing the songs himself, Beck is releasing them as sheet music that buyers will have to bring to life themselves. If it sounds weird to you that a musician is releasing sheet music in 2012, you're not alone, but it's not the first time the artist has branched out: Sound Shapes, a platformer released this week for the PlayStation 3 and Vita, includes three exclusive tracks from Beck.
Song Reader's 20 individual song booklets will be accompanied by original art from Marcel Dzama, Leanne Shapton, Josh Cochran, Jessica Hische, and others, and will come in a "lavishly produced hardcover carrying case." The album includes "full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art" for each song, and the package includes 108 pages in total, with a foreword from Beck and an introduction by The New York Times' Jody Rosen. Song Reader might be a disappointment for those who want Beck to hand them funky jams instead of sheet music, but it will certainly be interesting to hear the new album played by anyone but the man himself.