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