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Blackfield - Blackfield II CD (album) cover

BLACKFIELD II

Blackfield

 

Prog Related

3.68 | 306 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I finally got myself a copy of one of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson's many side- projects: Blackfield, a musical venture he shares with Israeli talent Aviv Geffen. I never really put any attention to anything Wilson has done outside his main creation, but after having listened to the second album by this talented team, I'm pretty sure I'll start researching more and more about his projects.

This is Blackfield's second album (as the name so obviously implies) and I have to say that I still haven't heard the first one, so I won't even try to make any comparison or talk about how this opus fits in the band's catalogue. I will, nevertheless, share a few words about how I view II and what it did for me.

The music that Wilson and Geffen present to us isn't really too close to what we call progressive-rock. I would say this music has some prog elements (the use of keys and other instruments, the intelligent structures and melodies) but, as a whole, lies somewhere in between the border of hard-rock and pure and simple rock-pop. The songs are short, usually with no long instrumental parts, and the harmonies and rhythms are nothing your average rock listener wouldn't tolerate or understand.

What is clear is that Blackfield puts a strong emphasis in melody. Every song in the album has at least one beautiful tune within, and often times the choruses are easy to sing along. The music tends to be quite sad, too. Take a little bit of Porcupine Tree's music (mostly STUPID DREAM), add some British-pop in the blender (much a la Coldplay), add the narcotic voice of Steven Wilson and the raspy, very calmed voice of Geffen (who sounds a lot like Spock's Beard Nick D' Virgilio at his most pop), with lots of piano under atmospheric keyboards and guitar chords, many doubled choruses, round it up with an extra dose of melancholy and nostalgia, and you got the right recipe for getting an idea of how Blackfield's music sounds like.

Once (8/10) A very light rock-pop song, not overly sad. The pre-chorus section reminds us of Porcupine Tree's music. In the chorus Geffen's voice sounds very much like D'Virgilio's.

1,000 People (8.5/10) Some spacey chords over nostalgic piano notes, soft electronic percussion and acoustic guitar. The chorus is atmospheric, spacey. A sad song.

Miss U (9/10) One of the highlights. It starts with more energy than the preceding track, but soon Geffen's strongly-accented voice soothes us into peace. The chorus with distorted, distant vocals is full of melancholy. This speaks of loneliness. Of longing. Great song.

Christenings (8/10) The start of this one will take you immediately back to the STUPID DREAM era of Porcupine Tree. Wilson's narcotic voice really can make any chords sound deeper than what they are. When Geffen joins him in the chorus, the song loses a little of spark.

This Killer (7.5/10) How sad the star of this song is! The main verse It reminds me of "Adhesive", a STP song from a few years ago. The track then loses its inspiration and wobbles aimlessly, becoming repetitive. Is short so it's not bad.

Epidemic (8.5/10) A quite atmospheric, desperate love song. Only piano and vocals at the star, then the drums come and a heavy guitar riff plays over the same piano figure which relentlessly saves this song from banality. I'd preferred a slow song all the way, but it's still a good track, and near the end the fast tempo actually enhances the song. The guitar solo section at the end re-invigorates the music and turns "Epidemic" into a success.

My Gift of Silence (9.5/10) The start is magnificent. Just a soft guitar figure, incredibly sad piano notes, nothing else. Wilson's voice, which can be many things except happy or shiny, adds to the depressive mood. But it's just a love song of sorts, and we have to love it, too. The idea of the energy of the heart pumping without the man being able to stop it lurks into our minds. What's the point of everything if loneliness is your only companion for the rest of your life? Fantastic track and close to perfection.

Some Day (9/10) The melancholy continues. An outcast, an ignored boy turned into an ignored man. The words that tell you that someday everything will be better. And musically, it feels that way, for whereas the first part is as sad as it gets, the chorus- like section is much more inviting to hope. But, in the end, we sense that the true feeling behind this is the one of complete hopelessness. Those words of patience and optimism were just attempts to drive the man out of the suicidal path, a path that he started traveling long, long ago. Great song.

Where is My Love? (7.5/10) One of the shortest tracks in the album, and one of the poppiest and simplest, too. A little repetitive, yet never boring, for its length is the appropriate one. And even this up-tempo song sends signals of sadness and blue feelings.

End of the World (10/10) At last a superb perfect song. We've been waiting for Blackfield to take out the mask (that was not fooling anybody) of hope and optimism, and for them to finally embrace and acknowledge that everything's lost, there's no chance, sorrow and pain and grief are the natural state of things, happiness is nothing but a neuro-induced dream that it's injected on us so we can produce more and bred with less danger of our heirs becoming even more somber than ourselves, thus preserving the race for utter annihilation. The end of the world is here. And this magnificent ultra-sad track closes the album in perfect fashion and drives Blackfield's II music home: it belongs in the pantheon for the lost souls, under dark, not in sunlight.

A very, very good album. Not incredibly prog at times, but, not curiously, incredibly good at others. A varied record, but wherein the overall mood is that of nostalgia, sadness and pain. By any means, all of them the ingredients of art.

Recommended for: Fans of Porcupine Tree (specially STUPID DREAM era); fans of brit- pop-rock with a taste for unhappy creatures; fans of good music that don't need their rock to be "over-progressive" all the time.

Not recommended for: People who dislike soft, quiet, sad, gloomy music; fans of prog- rock that need incredible amounts of prog in each release. And, most of all, people that only take their music if it makes them smile.

.this will make you smile, for the quality. And for the irony of your sorry meaningless lonely life.

The T | 4/5 |

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