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Blackfield: Blackfield II

The second album from the partnership of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israel's leading counter culture rock musician Aviv Geffen, simply titled Blackfield II, is a wonderful mix of atmospheric pop, dark modern rock, and a touch of ambient as well as prog. If you liked their debut, chances are this one will thrill you in all the same ways.

The lush opener "Once" is one of those songs that you'll want to hit the repeat button over and over again, as this one features Wilson's alluring vocals on some ultra-catchy lyrics & arrangements. A heavier guitar presence is heard here, but there's also plenty of lush orchestrations, making this a killer starting point for the CD. "1,000 People" is typical Wilson melancholy, a signature of some of Porcupine Tree's earlier work, dripping with lush keyboards from Geffen, and a host of guest musicians, adding to the highly orchestral yet somber nature of the piece. On "Miss U", the lead vocals are handled by Geffen, who paints a tortured picture of someone on the losing end of a break-up, torn by the fact that the former partner has found a new love. It's a sad and bleak track, but thoroughly addicting, with plenty of lilting guitar patterns (Wilson drops in a pretty tasty solo) and waves of keyboards. Steven Wilson gives us his best British pop on "Christenings", a charming and quirky little number with intimate lyrics and some engaging piano work, while "This Killer", written by Geffen, is a dark piece of moody pop with just a hint of Pink Floyd influence thrown in for good measure.

Both musicians share vocal duties on "Epidemic", a tune with shuffling rhythms and haunting piano work from Daniel Salomon. The pacing on this one is a little more upbeat, and Wilson adds some searing guitar work to go along with the symphonic arrangements. "My Gift of Silence" is a charming and lush pop ditty, while "Some Day" almost has a feel not unlike Wind & Wuthering era Genesis, thanks to Wilson's vocals and plenty of vintage sounding keyboards. The duo opt for a slightly more bombastic arrangement on "Where Is My Love?", a brooding piece with crashing drums from Tomer Z, textured guitar work from Wilson, and huge orchestrations, while the closer "End of the World" sees both Geffen and Wilson laying down rich vocal harmonies over dreamy musical landscapes.

If there's any one complaint about Blackfield II, it's that they never really hit the high point again that is started off with on "Once", which is not only the strongest track here but also the most upbeat. Many of the songs tend to follow a similar dark and moody path, but thankfully the vocals are always top-notch and there are plenty of gorgeous melodies floating around. In fact, "floating melancholy" is probably a good way to describe the music of Blackfield on their sophomore release. Good stuff once again guys.

Track Listing
1. Once
2. 1,000 People
3. Miss U
4. Christenings
5. This Killer
6. Epidemic
7. My Gift of Silence
8. Some Day
9. Where Is My Love?
10. End of the World

Added: March 12th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Blackfield Website
Hits: 4102
Language: english

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Blackfield: Blackfield II
Posted by Richard Barnes, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-03-12 15:30:43
My Score:

Blackfield is the collaboration between Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen and this release, as the title rather obviously shows, is their second batch of songs marrying the atmospheric and symphonic styles of PT with Geffen's excellent songwriting skills. The band line up for this disc is completed with Daniel Solomon on Piano and Seffy Efrati on bass with the enigmatically named Torner Z on drums.

The majority of the compositions are melodic and atmospheric, lyrically poignant but occasionally tongue in cheek. Strings and synth layers support pleasant vocal harmonies. David Gray's style might be an appropriate comparator at times.

The first song, "Once", starts in a moderate tempo but shifts up through the gears under a wistful floating vocal from Wilson; a very orchestral opening. In "1000 people", we get a typical PT-styled melancholy ballad about loss of confidence and hope, similar to the 'heart attack in a layby' song, embellished by some sweet string arrangements.

The PT connection comes through powerfully also on "Christenings", harking back to the very early psych-influenced days of the band. The lyric concerns a chance meeting in a record shop with an old rock star. Could be Syd Barrett or it could be a touch of self parody. Could even be Bowie as the song borrows some of the Major Tom theme.

The gloomy theme continues in "This Killer" which evokes a stab of sympathy for the duo's agoraphobic character in their loneliness and depression.

In "Epidemic", a tri-note piano figure is repeated and provides a counterpoint to the menacing rhythm and guitar riffs which gradually build and ebb through the song, shifting the lyrical mood from despairing to resentful. The dual mood approach is repeated through tension and release in the following song, "My Gift of Silence", which employs a tasteful swaying rhythm to carry the lush symphonic canvas on which the gorgeous melody and poignant lyric is woven.

A simple acoustic guitar introduces the isolation of school life subject matter in "Some Day". The song develops cleverly through its concept of inability to socialise and suicidal tendency finally holding out hope. Lyrically, it rather reminds of a sign on a memoriam to an air crash in Lancashire in the 1950s. "Just around the corner, everything is all right".

Track 9 is the most luxuriant of the songs with a crescendo of strings and guitars reached by a gradual development of the simple repeated question, "where is my love". A soaring guitar solo climaxes the song. The album is topped off nicely with "End of the World" which has a memorable hook for some of the best prose on the collection.

Any one of the songs would deserve to chart as a single. One you could buy your Mum for Christmas, as long as she isn't prone to depression that is.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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