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5 stars They say you can recognize a good combination when they see it. It has been said about Simon & Garfunkel, McCartney & Lennon, Waters & Gilmour and many more. Some have said that even a totally coincidental mix between Aviv Geffen & Steven Wilson, is one of the following. After the first, successful album, and the tour - which was even more successful, after Blackfield have - almost literally - conquered Europe, the time has come to hear another Blackfield album.

Although the suprising fact that the album is called "Blackfield II" (Who would have thought! :-)), the album is full of exciting song, that keeps the short legacy of the band - songs that deal with the inner parts of the human soul, the deepest depression and the enormous need for love. The structure of "Blackfield II" is very like the first: 10 tracks, the same one track sung by Geffen - when most of the album is sung by SW, and the same two tracks that are taken - suprisingly - from Aviv Geffen's repertuar.

It is kind of a weird thing that Blackfield decided to take "1,000 People", which is in my opinion a very personal track that Geffen wrote about himself ("1,000 people yelled and shouted my name, but i wanna die in this moment, i wanna die" - translated directly from hebrew) - but maybe that's what makes the album so interesting: the fact that songs are uprooted from it's base, translated and got a new meaning. I could only mention "End Of The World", originally written in 1997 for Geffen's compliation, "Full Moon", which dealt with the situation back then in Israel, and in the new version is more of a mourning song for a friend who died, and is now in heaven.

In conclusion, "Blackfield II" is new exciting chapter of Blackfield's career, a chapter which symbols the fact that they are not changing, keeping the same consistent way that lead them to the contract with Warner/Atlantic , and maybe will reach another heights soon.

Report this review (#104434)
Posted Monday, December 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Intelligent Progp

A mix of No-Man and Porcupine Tree, Blackfield are, however, in no way a progressive rock act. They are in fact the producers a very well-put together pop/rock album with extremely inteligent composition and care put into the production. A 10 mid-sized song album formula that works well for anyone willing to hear pop with an alternative yet not adventurous aproach.

1. "Once": a gentle start turning into a rocker in the chorus. Lovely harmonies on the background, with Steven handling the lead vocals.

2. "1,000 People": great electronic keyboard riff, before the entry of the acoustic guitar driving this song. A slight crescendo in the chorus, sounding fantastic, with the orchestral background music. Music ends abrubtly into the next one...

3. "Miss U": ... which starts with guitar and Aviv handling the lead vocals for the first time. The tone is pretty much the same as the previous song, only heavier in the chorus. Plenty vocal effects throughout the tune. A nice guitar solo in the end, accompanied by piano as the song fades out.

4. "Christenings": probably the most Porcupine Tree-sounding song in the album. Features a spacey slide guitar with siding piano, typical Wilson stuff.

5. "This Killer": mostly acoustic track, that doesn't realy stand out from the others, even though it's still a very enjoyable listen.

6. "Epidemic": piano and vocal intro, a darker mood seting in this song. After a first chorus, electronics kicks in. The song gets a bit heavier and fast, but still the same dark feeling to it, mostly because of the vocals, which feature a tiny hint of despair. Electric guitar solo accompanied by vocal harmonies. A rather interesting female backing vocal towards the end.

7. "My Gift of Silence": again the same piano+guitar riff intro. A kind of No-Man tune with a bit more "edge".

8. "Some Day": hum, pretty much the same comment as above, minus the piano. Very mellow and melancholic tune, with a fantastic ending with heavier percussion, guitar and harmonies that fade out.

9. "Where is My Love?": a smaller piece among not very long tracks, with a heavier edge, but also a greater pop feeling to it.

10. "End of the World": drums and a really haunting piano riff opening, this is the song that will probably last longer in your memory after your first experience of the album. Great vocals by both Wilson and Geffen, culminating in the fantastic chorus, which is extremely poppy, but not in any way less gorgeous. The piano drives most of the song, up until the end of the second chorus, when Aviv delivers a stronger vocal performance and the music slightly raises, before fading out.

I've always considered making a good pop/rock album to be harder then a good progressive rock one, and if that realy is the case, then what an effort Aviv and Steven must have put into this! There are some songs stronger than others (Miss U, Christenings, Epidemic and End of the World being my favorites), but not a single weak song. In that matter, it is a better album than it's predecessor.

Now, I was never a sucker for lyrics. Vocals to me are just another part of the instrumentation (and yet I could never get into Magma or Sygur Ros - go figure). However, if you are the type that pays atention to lyrical content, I must warn you that this one is a wrist slasher.

This is definitly a song album, but it sounds very concise and flowy. The general tone is mellow and melancholic, but far from the kind that sends you to sleep. Slight downsises for me are Aviv's accent and the shortness of the album, which realy left me craving for more. It's just one of those things you know its not prog, or even very original, for that matter, but that you just put into your CD player and then have to wait weeks before getting it out. And that,to me, is the mark of good music, be it prog or any other kind.

Report this review (#108174)
Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars More again, a fine collection of catchy crafted pop-rock tunes, in a very sentimental and melancholic vein. The celestial vocal harmonies, orchestral strings, mood and tempo variations create all together a very interesting listening, with all the details providing the class of the composition. Everything is correctely balanced, never sounding forced or excessively dramatic, creating a very good ambience. Lyrics seem to be very introspective, dealing with love, mainly failed relationships, but also evoking disturbed pasts or even humanity in its vast sence.

Every track has something to offer, since the soft/power contrast of the opener "Once", their heaviest sound, evoking Porcupine Tree's "Blackest Eyes"; the sweet "1,000 people"80's remmant of the 80's sound effects; the heartbreaking "Miss You" evoking New Order; or the Beatle's-like "Christenings" chorus. Tearing "This Killer" is perhaps the one which resembles more the sound of their first album. The stunning ballad is undoubtfully "My Gift of Silence", a very crafted nostalgic and sad tune, with very introspective lyrcs, constructed around several catchy intrumental details and the band's characteristic vocal harmonies. "Some Day" is in the genre of the previous one, also one of the best of the collection. "Where is my Love?" is another standout, with the constelation of the refrain backing vocals creating a stunning refrain. The album is ended marbelously with the memorable chorus of "End of the World", in the vein of David Bowie.

Report this review (#110394)
Posted Friday, February 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Blackfield story continues.

Once again Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen managed to deliver a fine, catchy progressive pop/rock album. Just like Blackfield self titled debut Blackfield II consists out of ten short, poppy rock songs with all great melodies. You could say that the catchy melodies is really what Blackfield is all about and what makes their albums really work. Sometimes they play heavier-edged songs, like the intro Once and Epidemic , and sometimes very delicate slow-paced tracks like for example 1.000 people and This Killer .

One distinction with their debut album is that on Blackfield II Aviv Geffen does more of the lead vocals, and he should, because he is a gifted singer and this makes the collaboration between the two stand out even more. The track Where Is My Love is not a new song as it was already available as one of the three bonus tracks on their debut. My personal favourite tracks at the moment would probably be My Gift of Silence and End of the World . Simply beautiful!

Conclusion; once again Blackfield manages to deliver another great record with 10 catchy, melodic pop/rock songs. For now Blackfield (I) is still my favourite of the II. Nevertheless 4 stars well deserved. (Probably closer to 4.5 though)

Report this review (#112113)
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When many people think "masterpiece," they may immediately think of musical works that burst with magnificent energy and may even smack of operatic grandeur. I don't blame them. I thought the same way. Until I listened to Blackfield's latest release, which is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and yet in no sense of the word. With their first album, Blackfield made it known that they would create works of melancholic beauty, and that release was certainly excellent in its own right. Yet as beautiful as their debut album was, this very beauty and the attention given to it may have actually taken away from the overall effect of the work. With Blackfield II, however, the band seems to take a more genuine approach to the melancholy, and I believe that this has made for a beauty much more lasting and emotionally moving. In short, if the debut's polish seemed to be reminiscent of a man recalling pain from a restored place of comfort and security, then this album depicts the man in the worst moments of his despair. If the group's first release seemed to wear a shimmering coating, then the dark honesty of Blackfield II certainly emanates from within.

The truth is that Blackfield II deals less with melancholy and more with irreparable nihilistic despair. "Once," the album opener, begins the musical journey with intimations of downward movement. When Wilson sings, "I want you to know that I could go at any time," the listener is immediately struck with the notion that things can only get worse. And indeed they do. The starkly magestic "1000 People" is unrelenting in its despairing overtones. Painfully bare synthesizer notes stand out in contrast to the smooth but cold strings in the background, which seem to swell at all the right moments. "This Killer" conjures up images of a helpless child abandoned to the world. Backed by needle-thin guitar plucking, Wilson opens by singing, "Don't leave the door ajar and walk away. Don't leave me in the dark." The cold, dark piano in the intro to "Epidemic" point toward the gnawing anger directed at both self and once-significant-other. "My Gift of Silence" features one of the most depressingly beautifully vocal melodies I've ever heard. This song also seems to epitomize the album's tendency to allow the music to reflect lyrical sentiments. Smooth, otherwise comforting electric guitar notes seem to contradict the piercingly depressing piano chords in the background. Wilson sings, "The smile on my lips is a sign that I don't hear you leaving me and I don't hear my own soul scream." The musical contradictions only enhance the stated denials. In what may be one of the most fitting conclusions to any piece of music, "End of the World" concerns just that. The title may seem cliche, but the band is able to treat the idea honestly enough so that the true gravity of it hits the listener in the face with all the power that an end should entail. Nihilism abounds here as it should. The almost overwhelmingly depressing lyrics are sometimes backed by carefree piano melodies. When Wilson sings that "we're dead but pretend we're alive," this musical device makes a lot more sense. In the end, few bands would dare conclude an album with such a cynically depressing song. Few bands could ever offer lines like, "In your room doing nothing but staring at flickering screens. Streets are empty but still you can hear joy of children turn into tears."

When listening to this album, I can understand what Blackfield set out to accomplish. They did away with the more superficial melancholy of their debut and replaced it with the gutwrenching despair of Blackfield II. Hardly anything is out of place. Nothing is overdone. Nor should it be. This is the no bull[&*!#] version of unhappiness. There isn't any room for meditation when the sky is falling. Just rain. And how perfect.

Report this review (#112143)
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars As mentioned before, this is "prog related" at best, this is no real prog. Still the musicians are very good and made one heck of a pop album. All songs could be pop songs but have an interesting edge usually. Don't expect soaring guitar solos or crazy synths, you won't find them here, nor will you find anything really interesting music wise. Here you'll find somwhat depressing and very melancholic music expressed in good compositions and backed up by really good vocals. Aviv Geffen is a good vocalist too, as is Steven Wilson (but you already knew that, probably). All in all this album is slightly better than Blackfield I in my opinion.

So if you're taking a break frm the heavier prog, then this album can be a nice releaf. Pretty light music, but heavy vocals. If you're about to kill yourself I can't recommend this album, but if you're not inclined to do such thing, then by all means at least give this album a try.

Four stars for a sollid altough not too proggy album.

Report this review (#112505)
Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Indispensable and absolutely brilliant.

Blackfield did it again. Wonderful harmonies, orchestral arrangements and some discretely, albeit effectively, shifting time-signatures. Add a production that is nothing less than perfect and you got a record that, in the end of the year, probably will be remembered as one of the best (although not in the traditional prog lists, but I listen to more things than prog).

Steven Wilson is doing the majority of the lead vocals, and there's where my ONLY complaint of this album spring to mind; Stevens unwillingness to actually let Avis handling the lead vocals, as he really is a very gifted singer. I'm not disliking Steven or the music, but it would be interesting to hear more from Aviv. That way it doesn't necessarily apply to Porcupine Tree in the same way. All in all, more of a thought than a complaint, though.

While not an immediate masterpiece in terms of traditional prog-rock, still, "Blackfield II" really IS an excellent addition to basically any record collection within the rock genre. This probably goes down as a pop record, and yet there's an absence of the traditional elements of pop/rock (overpowered choruses, stretched guitar solos etc.) That doesn't make this less good. On the contrary, actually.

4 stars.

Report this review (#113758)
Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well I'm not a Pop lover, in fact I think I'm an antipop, anyway here we go:

1. Once: A little rocker one (reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkings maybe?), with a really beautiful chorus.

2. 1000 People: This begins with keys and some acoustic guitar, then voice enter (very melancholic by the way). The chorus is very spacey with strings

3. Miss U: Kicks in with drums, guitar and bass, then Mr. Aviv Geffen starts singing while the mood becomes more calm (reminds a little the song Creep by Radiohead). The chorus is the same like the begining but enhanced by strings, the song ends with a nice guitar solo fading out...

4. Christenings: This is maybe the most PT song (in fact I read some time ago on the internet that this song was a leftover from Deadwing sessions!!!) this features slide guitar and is very spacey, typical Porcupine Tree.

5. This Killer: Begins with gloomy atmosphere only acoustic guitar and subtle drumming, the chorus again is very spacey enhanced by the help of keyboards. This is a dark song.

6. Epidemic: This one starts with piano and voice in a gloomy mood, then when the drums and guitar kicks in, the song gains strength and the mood changes (over the same piano riff, Brilliant!!!) The chorus again is spacey with layers of keyboards, there is a guitar lead accompanied by voice harmonies.

7. My Gift Of Silence: This begins with guitar effects (a la Pink Floyd), piano and voice giving the sensation of loneliness. This song has a very beautiful chorus.

8. Some Day: Start melancholic (again?) only with acoustic guitar arpeggio and Aviv Geffen singing like if hope doesn't exists. Later Steven Wilson gives him a helping hand with vocal harmonies. Then drums enters to give strength to the song with the help of strings until the fade out...

9. Where Is My Love: Begins with gloomy mood, the chorus is beautiful, heavy but melancholic. There is a repetitive guitar phrase adding emotion to the chorus. Magic!!!

10. End Of The World: Starts with dark dual voice and a catchy piano riff. The chorus is very popish accompanied by long open guitar chords. The song is full of keyboard textures.

Verdict: Is Pop? Is Rock? Is Alternative? Is Psychedelic? Maybe. But for sure is a compilation of intelligent and well composed music. Cut-your-veins (I'm kidding that's the way we call MELANCHOLIC music ;-)) This is a very beautiful and depressive album. The stars are aligned this time and seems to be that a legendary pair has formed (Geffen/Wilson). Time will tell...

Not my cup of tea but definitively a MASTERPIECE

Report this review (#114112)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2007 | Review Permalink

If there is one thing in the music world that always proves interesting, it is when two or more artists from other bands collaborate. Usually in the form of a side project, the albums produced showcase the trademarks of all involved while creating a sound unique to the band. In the case of Blackfield, the pairing of these particular two fantastic songwriters equates to relatively short but captivating pop/rock albums. "Blackfield II", while overall not as good as predecessor, is still a fine collection of catchy and beautiful songs that will stay with you forever.

Blackfield is a partnership between Steven Wilson (the genius behind the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree) and Israeli Rock superstar Aviv Geffen. Geffen invited Porcupine Tree to play in his home town in 2000 and soon he and Wilson became both friends and collaborators. They released their self-titled album in 2004, and it was essentially a perfect album (no filler, every song was great etc). On their sophomore effort, the two creative forces aimed at a sadder, more somber and more reflective album that almost matches the greatness of their debut, but falls a bit short. Although Wilson has proven himself capable of playing everything on his recordings (the earliest Porcupine Tree material was him solely), he and Geffen hired some musicians to bring their art to life. On this album, Daniel Salomon is their pianist, Seffy Efrati plays the bass and Tomer Z is the drummer. The result is a very tight band performing seemingly simple, yet thematically complex tunes.

The album starts out with "Once", which showcases Wilson's nice use of falsetto vocals. It's a perfect album opener, as the dynamics get much heavier in a short amount of time. The chorus is pure Blackfield, and the listener can already tell that they're hearing another fantastic output by the band. "Miss you" is a great song not because of its verse melody (which is nothing special), but because of its haunting chorus, which proclaims "Tomorrow you'll be gone and I'll miss you." "The Killer" is a soft, simple song with a not so pleasant subject (which is not a bad thing). "My Gift of Silence" is an amazingly catchy track. It's a great example of Wilson's skill of creating beauty out of simplicity, and it's one of the best short songs he has ever produced. The album concludes with its best song, "End of the world", which makes great use of the pair harmonizing. It's a nostalgic piece that serves as a phenomenal closing to the album. The majority of the album will be considered a series of classic pieces in the bands career (which, hopefully, will last a long time).

Unlike the original LP, Blackfield II does have some flaws. The main problem is that several of the songs, while good in their own right, simply aren't as original and inventive as they could be. "Christenings" sounds too familiar, forced and effortless. "Where is my love?" hurts the album because it's not really a new song. The original LP was released in a two-disc form, with this track as a bonus demo. True it was reworked for the album, but it is redundant to anyone who owns the special edition of the original album. There are several other moments on the album that give the sense that Wilson and Geffen are running out of ideas or borrowing from other people. This is definitely the minority of the album, and the songs are still very good, so it only barely hurts the album

When two artists surprise their individual fans by working together and releasing a near perfect album as a debut, it's almost impossible to meet expectations for the follow-up. Such is the case with Blackfield II. On its own, it's a great album with no bad songs (some are just more original and unique than others). With this release, fans can conclude two things: Blackfield will continue to release great albums with their now established sound, but they will never surpass their incredible debut. Regardless, this band deserves some attention and acclaim, and Blackfield II belongs in everyone's music collection.

Report this review (#114301)
Posted Monday, March 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am a proud member of an unofficial and unrecognized worldwide fraternity of people who revel in sad songs. To be a member one usually has to have experienced gut- wrenching heartbreak at some point in their life but it's not a prerequisite for enjoying Blackfield's music by any means. It's an irony of the cosmos that some of the most gorgeous art is borne out of tragedy as Wilson & Geffen so eloquently express here on "End of the World" when they sing "So many lies turned to songs/like roses who are hiding their thorns." In a nutshell, if you liked what these two immensely talented composers/musicians created on their debut then you will surely be pleased with this one.

The team of Steven and Aviv start things off with one of the best tunes on the album, "Once." It features an unconventionally accented rock pattern, dense guitars and soaring moments from The Downtown Session Orchestra (which will be employed extensively throughout most of these recordings). It's a powerful, driving statement by the singer who knows that no other woman will ever be able to compete with the lost love of his life. He openly tells his admirer "I want you to know/that I could let you go anytime" because "once she would hold me/she was my only/only to love." A lonesome piano melody and deep acoustic guitars lead you into "1000 People," a song that expresses how one can be worshipped and adored by fans but still feel empty and despairing on the inside. The singer admits that it doesn't make a lick of sense to most folks and that there's "no way to understand why I've become the way I am." But some of us know why. It's because he still carries the heartache that no one can see. The smooth blend of their two voices on the chorus is exceptional. "Miss U" is an upbeat tune with acoustic guitars, excellent orchestration and a very catchy refrain. It's about finding out that the embodiment of your pain has moved on and is now in a new romantic relationship but you are still trapped in the same dark place. "Your living another life/it cuts me like a knife/I hope you understand/I'm the one who's left behind," he cries. There's some tasteful piano accompaniment on the 2nd verse and Wilson's guitar lead during the fadeout is perfectly understated.

If there's a low point in the proceedings it's on "Christenings" which describes a chance encounter with a former MTV starlet who is now a homeless street person. It's very reminiscent of where Steven was at (musically speaking) when he recorded the pivotal "Stupid Dream" CD with Porcupine Tree. It's not a bad tune, but nothing really reaches out to touch your soul. Or maybe it's just that so many exemplary songs surround it. "This Killer" is a change of subject matter entirely. The 7/8 verses and dreamy, lush symphonic score create a paradoxical counterpoint for the creepy psychopathic warnings delivered by the protagonist in lines like "don't leave me in the dark/you think you know me well/it makes me laugh/'cos I don't know myself" and "stay inside your home/and hide away before I lose control." The next tune is another highlight. "Epidemic" starts out with just piano and vocal, then Tomer Z's drums kick in with the electric guitar on the 2nd verse before the intense middle section arrives with its big chorale and lavish orchestration. The singer tells you that time doesn't necessarily heal all wounds and, in the case of his broken heart, "don't say everything's OK/don't tell me that it's just a phase/it doesn't help me" and "an epidemic in my heart/takes hold and slowly poisons me/her will won't let me breathe/it comes in waves and bleeds me dry." If you've ever been there you know exactly what he's talking about. "My Gift of Silence" begins with a subtle verse, then the drummer joins in for the beautiful chorus backed once again by the rich symphonic strings (all of which were arranged brilliantly by Geffen). In this tune he's telling his former lover not to feel guilty for leaving him when she sees what a wreck he's become (possibly because it's his own fault that she took off). "Don't blame yourself/don't change yourself/I just wanna be over, you see/and feel numb/don't hate yourself," he pleads.

A 12-string acoustic starts "Someday," a lyrically intriguing song that seems to say that if you felt like an outcast as a child you will most likely still feel the same later on in life even if you grow up to be attractive and desired. It's a devastating realization to find out "no one cares/about that f**king pretty face you have/it means nothing much this life/so find the highest cliff and dive." While the words aren't particularly uplifting, when the drumbeat comes in and the tune fills out musically it sorta counteracts the dismal message. "Where Is My Love" appeared as a bonus track on the debut but it sounded thin like a demo. Here it gets the star treatment it deserves. It's a great tune about disorienting bewilderment over being abandoned by love. Wilson's chiming, wall-of-sound guitars along with the towering orchestration create a cavernous aura. The vocal describes how painful memories can just pop into your consciousness at unexpected times. "The freezing moment when you turned your head and waved goodbye" and "endless fields of emptiness in my dark and wounded heart" are images that speak volumes. If you're ready to stick your head in the oven at this point you might want to skip the finale but you'd also be depriving yourself of another one of the best songs on the CD. "End of the World" has a slow blues rhythm with Wilson and Geffen singing in an octave of each other on the verses and the supremely elegant choruses. They tell of feeling overwhelmed by the human-inflicted horrors of our modern world, resulting in deep depression and demeaning cynicism. "In your room doing nothing/but staring at flickering screens/streets are empty/but still you can hear/joy of children turned into tears," they lament. The tune builds to a crescendo, then the vocals become angry and intense as they shout over dynamic breaks in the music that it's no wonder we seek escape through pill-induced sleep "without nightmares/without any dreams" and request that "If you wake up in hell or in heaven/tell the angels we're here/waiting below for a dream/here in the garden of sin." Statements brutally stark but ever so powerful.

I'm sure my admiration for this album is quite evident and if I described every time that the guitars, keyboards and drums excelled and the sublime orchestration inspired I'd have long since become nothing more than a broken record. I've read where some reviewers have labeled these songs as being "pop." That's dog dookie. Timberlake and Stefani are "pop," my friends, not Blackfield. The tunes on this album have much more in common with progressive rock than with contemporary radio ditties and there's no one making music any better or more meaningful than Steven and Aviv right now. And, while I don't believe it's as emotionally fluent as their phenomenal first album, I still can't give it less than my highest rating.

Report this review (#116975)
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Autoband said my thoughts perfectly in a previous review: "As mentioned before, this is "prog related" at best, this is no real prog. Still the musicians are very good and made one heck of a pop album. All songs could be pop songs but have an interesting edge usually. Don't expect soaring guitar solos or crazy synths, you won't find them here, nor will you find anything really interesting music wise. Here you'll find somewhat depressing and very melancholic music expressed in good compositions and backed up by really good vocals."

I agree 100%- and that being said- I don't really see how some reviewers are giving this album 5 stars.

Anyhow, Backfield comes back in the same vein, their next installment sounding fairly similar to their self titled album, perhaps a little too much the same for my taste. More sounds of melancholy, sadness, and the like. Like a popish album, each song does not differ highly from the next- giving the entire album one feeling, which for my taste isn't necessarily a good thing. But, if you are looking for ten songs to listen to while it rains outside and you contemplate life, perhaps you will enjoy this album.

I enjoy their first album more, but this album is good as well. (not excellent) If you didn't enjoy the 1st album, then I would not recommend this- 3.75 stars.

Report this review (#117039)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Blackfield - Blackfield II

The follow-up to 2004's "Blackfield" was one of my anticipated releases of 2007. And just as with the debut album of this collaboration between PORCUPINE TREE's Steven Wilson and Israeli singer Aviv Geffen, this one took some time to take in, before I really started enjoying the songs.

When I first listened to the album it left me neither warm nor cold, I felt a bit indifferent... but I felt exactly the same with "Blackfield". And that's one of my favourite albums nowadays, so that's promising for starters..

So what type of music do the songs on "Blackfield 2" comprise? Well, the answer is quite simple: exactly the type of tunes that we came to expect from this band via their debut album. This means you get to hear 40 minutes of well-written poprock, albeit a bit more experimental than the average poprock artist. Whereas the songs on the debut album were more or less resembling the more mellow side of "Stupid Dream"-era PORCUPINE TREE soundwise, here the songs are more dynamic. There's even a true proggy track included with the like of Epidemic!

Overal this is a nice mellow, but dynamic rock album, that's not overly complex, but well crafted and definitely one of the most accessible albums from the new batch of releases. The music consists of lots of layers, but not as many as on an average Porcupine Tree track. What's typically Blackfield is the use of lots of strings as instruments to create this nice and breathing background.

The overall feeling I get when listening is that it's not as dark and depressing (overstatement!) as the average PORCUPINE TREE album, but there's still this nice overall melancholic mood, which I personally really like.

Quite a nice way to start his new year of releases!

Report this review (#117239)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars The first BLACKFIELD seemed to be a good filler between two most anticipated PT albums. Good Pop-Rock songs, especially "Hello", "Pain" and the name-sake one. When last year I heard that Aviv/Steve plan to continue their collaboration, I thought: "Please. no, leave it as an experiment..."

But here we go again. The same way melancholic and introvert Pop-Rock with some PTish moments, but I don't think we should mention any other bands when it comes to BLACKFIELD. They are already have sound of their own, and all you can do is to love it or hate it. I've chosen the third road - I chose it as a background music. To be honest, this is the only positive thing "II" can offer me. Pale and weak even in compareness to debut, it has not much to enjoy. And leave alone Prog or "I-want-to-be-challenged" attitude, I'm talking about music itself!

No bashing here - I just didn't like it. If you liked the first one (like I actually did - it was good but non-essential in fact), you may try this one...if not you'd better abstain from spending your money on another Pop-Rock CD.

Report this review (#117520)
Posted Saturday, April 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Blackfield, one of the ventures of Porcupine Tree front man Steve Wilson, is the inspiration of Steve himself and of Israeli musician Aviv Geffen. The two originally combined in 2004 to produce the excellent Blackfield I album: this was originally only released in Israel but was followed up with a worldwide release in 2005, the album then containing three extra tracks, two of which were recorded after the original sessions whilst the third was a live recording of one of the songs.

If you are a fan of Porcupine Tree then you may well enjoy Blackfield's music: the songs are shorter and more oriented towards conventional pop/rock rather than Porcupine Tree's style of progressive rock but, despite Aviv and Steve sharing the song writing, Steve's trademark guitar and keyboards dominates the sound, resulting in a gorgeous fusion of pop with progressive influences. The overall effect is more McCartney late-Beatles period than Abba.

The album is full of melodious music accompanying lyrics that are always thoughtful, serious and often full of concerns about the world, but without being obvious "conscience songs". It's a very easy album to listen to. The songs are all of a high standard but without there being any obvious standout tracks I think it leaves the listener with a slight tinge of frustration, as from an unfulfilled promise; in particular because one of the songs, "Where is My Love?" was already on the international issue of Blackfield I.

The band are well worth a listen: if you are tempted to buy an album, then go for Blackfield I first as its songs have slightly more variety and the album is ultimately more interesting than this one.

Report this review (#117789)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
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.

Report this review (#117908)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars Did you like "Blackfield"? Well, if you did then I can guarantee you'll like "Blackfield 2". It has just as much beautifully melancholy art-pop as its predecessor and might actually be better. "Once" is more exciting than anything on part 1, while the rest of the album is consistent and tight, with all the musicians offering fine performances and the vocals projecting soulful emotion with every utterance. The inclusion of additional instrumentation adds another layer of beauty to the duo's work.

Did you hate "Blackfield"? Then you'll hate "Blackfield 2" even more! It is another example of boring songwriting and bland art-pop performances driven entirely by contrived soft vocals uninspired lyrics. "Blackfield 2" makes for great background music and little else, so long as one can ignore Aviv Geffin's lead singing.

In all seriousness, I feel that the Blackfield experiment has said about all it needed to say with their first release. To their credit, the duo has incorporated a few new elements to these songs, but it's not enough to cross boundaries and win over fans who didn't enjoy the first album. I hope SW has got the pop bug out of his system, and that Geffin hasn't rubbed off on his other projects.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#119108)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars My first impressions of this album were not very positive. It sounded to me like a lot of similar sounding, melancholic pop tunes. Well, after many listens my opinion thankfully has changed. I say thankfully because i'm one of Steven Wilson's biggest fans. It seems to me that Mr.Wilson has an even bigger role on this album when compared to the first one. And i'm so glad that he sings lead on almost every song, I don't know what it is about Steven's vocals but they are amazing. There is an emotional element to this music that I didn't detect right away, but it's there on a lot of these songs.

"Once" really sounds different from all the others.The tribal-like drumming with the explosion of guitars and drums. There is orchestration not only on this song but on pretty much all the songs. "1000 People" has this slow paced beat with some orchestration and guitar. There is a spacey feel to this one. "Miss U" is the only song Aviv sings lead on. I like the relaxing guitar solo to end the song. "Christenings" is my second favourite song on this record. Probably because there is a PORCUPINE TREE sound to it with strummed guitar and piano. "This Killer" is a beautiful, mellow song with orchestration and guitar.

"Epidemic" features some good guitar 3 minutes in, on a song that is a good indicator of the sound you will get from this album. "My Gift of Silence" opens with vocals and piano as drums follow. More orchestration as well. "Some Day" is my favourite song. It opens with vocals and acoustic guitar. More orchestration. Steven's vocals on the chorus are a highlight for me on this album. It really sounds like mellotron on this one just before the song picks up the pace. This one has some emotional lyrics. "Where Is My Love" is a song I have on the first BLACKFIELD album and it bothered me a little to hear it was on this one too, although it is a great tune. "End Of The World" has dual vocals with piano and orchestration. Aviv was responsible for the orchestration on this record,so he certainly had his hands full with that.

I still prefer the first one more probably because it sounds more like PORCUPINE TREE than this one does. This one just seems to get better the more I play it.

Report this review (#120701)
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very much an improvement from the last release! When I heard the Preview for this album, I was expecting to be disappointed. Oh was I surprised! Another set of 10 beautifully crafted Blackfield songs. A lot more Aviv on here, whose writing style I've grown to adore. (Although, his voice still isn't the best!) Although, my two favorite songs were written by Wilson, Once, and My Gift of Silence. My third favorite is Epidemic. This album features some more great lyrics, also. The only improvement I'd like for this album is that I'd like to see at least one calmer song, maybe just acoustic guitars or a piano or something. To me everything just seemed a little over the top. But otherwise, not a masterpiece, but certainly a well thought out album.
Report this review (#121991)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.3 Stars

A good collection of depressing rock/pop songs with Porcupine Tree influences. Well, that is obvious since Steven Wilson is one of the main musicians in this album, and sings all over the place. These influences I'm talking about is the mellotron, the symphonic feel, and generally several songwriting aspects. However, this is not really another Porcupine Tree album. While the band is clearly an influence here, the music is generally stripped down and sounds more accessible and commercial.

The opener Once shows what I'm trying to say, with a definitive Porcupine sound mixed with a modern pop/rock atmosphere. 1,000 People and Miss U might have the singing style and vocals from Porcupine Tree but the strings arrangements and simpler instrumentation sets them apart from UK's premier art rock band. On the other hand, Christenings with its slide guitar and piano recalls Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream era and could be put into that album without it being out of place. Epidemic starts with a dull piano riff which dominates the verses, but luckily the choruses are catchy enough to save this song from mediocrity. My Gift of Silence is a very good melancholic song. I love how it starts with a simplistic guitar line, depressing piano and Wilson's voice and develops into a sorrowful tune with beautiful arrangements and melodies, and Some Day continues that mood. The End of the World is really the anthem of depression and giving up. A perfectly-produced mid-tempo ballad with unforgettable choruses. The instrumentation is depressingly beautiful and the melodies are of the highest quality.

This is a nice album if you tend to enjoy straight-forward depressing rock/pop and/or are at least a casual fan of Porcupine Tree. I don't strongly recommend it, unless you are a serious fan of Porcupine Tree and the debut of Blackfield (which I haven't heard, but it seems to be of similar quality based on reviews)

1. Once (B-) 2. 1,000 People (B-) 3. Miss U (C+) 4. Christenings (C+) 5. This Killer (C) 6. Epidemic (C) 7. My Gift of Silence (B+) 8. Some Day (C+) 9. Where is My Love? (C-) 10. End of the World (A)

Report this review (#123673)
Posted Monday, May 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen return with Blackfield's second release, still full of artsy pop and nice melodies. As usual with Steven Wilson album, the production is sleek and crisp- very enjoyable. There's nothing too adventurous or technical, but that's okay because they know how to craft some simple yet elegant tunes with lush vocal harmonies and strings. And, not surprisingly, the lyrics are depressing and the whole album has a very melancholic feeling, but it's not unbearable. Blackfield II is one of those albums that shows you don't have to show off amazing chops to make good music.

Standout songs: "Once," "Christenings," "Epidemic"

Report this review (#125486)
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was waiting for this album with anxiety con Blackfield I was a great nice beautiful surprise for me. After listeninf severak times and month still don't catch me... and I don't know why...

I really love almost every work made by Steve Wilson but I still can't get Blackfield II. Ok, I can't say it's a bad album, in fact there are a lot of great songs and beautiful and melancholic lyrics. "Once" is a very nice pop/rock song; Where Is My Love? Really broke my heart and still makes my cry; Epidemic (my favourite) is a great song with dark lyrics and closer to soem experimetal heavy rock tunes; and This Killer and My Gift Od Silence are two beautiful pop ballads with amazing lyrics (again)... But still there's something that doesn't fit... Maybe the order of the tracks or that constant sense of listening some recycled music from the pop-alternative bands of the 90's. I still don't know.

Anyway is an album nice to play during sunday evenings. Sometimes catchy, most of the time extremely nostalgic. I hate to compare albums but Blackfield I was very close to be a masterpiece (IMHO) but Blackfield II still sounds to me like a compilation of soft-prog songs with just some few memorable moments...

Report this review (#125980)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Bonjour Tristesse! Blackflield continues on its melancholic path, sharpening the focus of their accessible prog-pop: Nothing like good old fashioned sadness to convey the deepest cut, the wounded heart and the slashed soul. When people judge this as moodily depressive, it only confirms that most forms of musical expression are deeply rooted in suffering and pain: Classical operas and more specifically the entire Russian classical music scene, American blues, punk-rock, Portuguese Fado, Gypsy music, Flamenco and many more.This second chapter in the Wilson-Geffen collaboration, recorded in Great Britain and Israel, features almost all vocals performed by the talented Englishman , even though most songs are in fact written by Aviv . The lyrics are quite bleak, dealing with highly advanced states of heartbreak, skirting very near self-murder ("I wanna die"). Kind of odd and rebellious for a citizen of a society where the powerful religious branches severely frown on suicide, viewed as a cowardly affront to God ("Only he has the right to take the life that he has given") and an almost taboo subject even today. That is why this project must clearly bear the stamp of progressive, as it dares to go beyond the usual fantasy-laden platitudes, address the contemporary ills of our time and perhaps tone down the swirling Hammond runs, the bubbling synths and the groove laden instrumental excursions. Make room for the ghosts of tortured love, with all its exhilarating highs and dizzying lows! The arrangements are sparse, rather uncomplex rhythms, all slaves to the 359 degree melody hooks that adorn each piece. Other reviewers have previously autopsied the tracks, requiring little more added info. There are some overt Beatles influences with some "awfully" pretty moments, long-term adhesives to the cerebral music library, such as the mellotron-synth lilt of "1000 People", the anthemic flippant angst of "Miss U" with its short fade-out guitar solo, the dark "he likes me when I'm down" perfidy of "This Killer", the dirge-like" my heart is open" futility of "Epidemic", the abject surrender extolled in "The Gift of Silence", the seductively repetitive bewilderment of "Where is my Love?" and the inexorable arrival in the "Garden of Sin", the sad finale of a somewhat hopeless life , with a simply gorgeous 6 note piano motif , repeated ad infinitum and played on the altar of "The End of The World". Ending (sic) an album on such a genius song is where the proof of utter quality lies. It didn't hit me right away and I needed to adjust but the romantic nerve was easy to pinch and I have fallen victim to its "Spleen" (Fans of Baudelaire will understand) 4.5 open wounds
Report this review (#128614)
Posted Sunday, July 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you want me to take a break, I'll take this album!

Oh yeah. it's time to write a review because by now I think I have spun the CD (including those ripped into my iPod) more than ten times. It's such a pleasure enjoying this album and it serves as a break from day-to-day prog listening. Imagine yourself enjoying Isildur's Bane or Thinking Plague or Somnambulist and your mind feels like "dark" and complex, I think it's about time for you to have a try of this album. It's so nice. The music is quite simple and there is nothing that you need to think whenever you spin this CD. In fact, having listened to this CD many times, it stimulated me to write some words that I post last week on the forum. It says something like this:

I Wish .

This morning, I spun Blackfield II CD / The music is so simple / There is nothing complex / Everything moves smoothly / Nothing distracts me at all, musically / The melody is nice, even though not that catchy / The soundscape. oh yeah! This is THE KEY of this album / Steven Wilson is the master of soundscape / The lyrics are so dark / I sip my kopi tubruk/ while lstening to the music.. and read Edward Macan's book . ROCKING THE CLASSICS!

Oh I wish .. I am a musician ./ How come I am not a musician? / It was the story of the past / I did NOT dare to challenge the "status quo" / I just followed what others did / Study very hard, find the best school / Oh yeah .. I got it! / But .. it does not answer my question . / Why am I not a musician?/ I wish .


Let's face it, Gatot! / Don't do any daydream / You are not gifted as musician / You have to enjoy and thankful on what you do now! / What do I do? / Listen to the music / Find all subtleties embedded in the music / Write what "I feel" about the music / Remember .. Music IS emotion / Appreciate the music / What A GREAT LIFE!!!! / Thanks God .! / I choose to be thankful on what I do now / Even though . / I wish I was a musician . (rock music)..

That has proved the music contained in this CD is very emotional and touches my mind and my heart and at the same time triggers me to do something. I have to agree that all lyrics are very dark, the music is simple but powerful.

Is this pop?

Like its previous debut, all 10 songs featured here are structurally straight forward composition and there is a very strong influence from Porcupine Tree music. Major difference with Porcupine Tree is that there is no such thing as curved line here, everything moves simply in one direction and there is no variations in terms of style in typical song. It's just intro-body-chorus-body kind of structure. So, you might call it a pop song. I don't think this is a pure pop song because the music has something more to offer. What is that? The soundscape man! Please spin this CD during midnight in your private listening room, play it very (very!) loud and you will get all the subtleties produced by this album. Fabulous! Observe how the piano is played in floating style, the string section at the back, the bass, midrange and treble, and how Steven Wilson sings. Oh man .. I bet you will love this album regardless you are a die hard prog rock fan or just a pop music fan - it does serve all tastes!!!

The music itself is dominated by Steven Wilson and I will assure those of you who like the music of Porcupine Tree will enjoy this album to the fullest. The vocal department is also heavily dominated by Steven Wilson. In fact, I haven't seen any song that demonstrates Aviv Geffen vocal quality even though there is one song where the lead vocal is by Geffen, ie: "Miss U". At a glance I never thought that this song is sung by Geffen as it sounds like the same with other songs, vocally. So when I read the CD inlay I found that this is sung by him.

The more I spin this CD, the more I like it and there is a need to re-spin the CD, which I did it sometimes. The more spin, the more I know the flow of songs and it infuses slowly into my mind and it's just like telling me a flow of a concept album with inter-related songs. Take an example of opening track "Once" (4:03) which has an upbeat style and good drumwork, followed with mellow-spacey "1,000 People" and going back to upbeat "Miss U". The next is the expected hit "Christening". Wow! What a great flow of songs.

My best favorite track from this album is the end track "End of The World" even though I love all tracks. The last track has everything that fulfills my needs in terms of melody, structure and soundscape. The music has a very strong Pink Floyd influence but in relatively straightforward structure. The lyrics are very captivating : Don't you forget what I've told you / So many years / We are hopeless and slaves to our fears / We're an accident called human beings .. Oh what a great opening. The music flows beautifully through good lyrical passages. I cannot afford not to replay this song whenever it finishes. It's really a masterpiece! But, there is no such this as mediocre track in this album - all of them are excellent. I also love "Someday" especially when Wilson sings the "f" word - so nice, vocally man!


Do I need to conclude? Especially with the above long write-up which admires this album? Well, you can draw the line by yourself then. I am sorry for being too emotional with this review because I cannot help it. This album is damn excellent! You know, my philosophy has always been and will always be: Music is Emotion. A bit of guidance here is that for those of you who like "Deadwing" album, will definitely enjoy this album as well. But it does not mean that those who don't will not enjoy this. This is a universal album that serves any musical taste and I'm sure that you have to give it a try! If you are audiophile, I would suggest you to buy the vinyl. I am sure this album would sound great when you enjoy it with a vinyl. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

It's the end of the world / The end of the world / It's a prison for dreams and for hopes / And still we believe there is God / It's the end of the world / The end of the world We're dead but pretend we're alive / Full of ignorance, fools in disguise .

("End of The World" - Blackfield II)

Report this review (#129094)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson joined with Israeli pop star Aviv Geffen in 2004 to put out a collection of poppy prog songs (or proggy pop songs), people thought it was a nice gesture to hold them over until the next PT record came out. When he said he would be doing it again, the same year that a Porcupine Tree full-length would be released, no less, people thought it was stupid and that the side-project should have remained a one-off. These people were wrong.

Blackfield II shows that there is more to be said with Israeli pop/British prog fusion than one album's worth of material. Wilson and Geffen trade off lead vocals, guitar solos, keyboard flourishes, and even lyric credits over the record's ten song, forty-two minute length. The songs never go off the deep end into self-indulgence, because they just aren't that kind of song. You wouldn't really know that Steven Wilson was the virtuosic progger that he is based on this album; the songs recall The Beatles more than they do Pink Floyd, in contrast to the Tree's trademark space-rock.

Songs where Aviv Geffen takes the songwriting charge are often the most interesting ones. His lyrics address the world's problems from the view of someone living in the midst of them. His hometown of Tel Aviv gives him an upper hand lyrically over the British or American perspectives of many songs that fail to capture the essence of the Middle Eastern conflict. He also lyrically addresses relationships between people with a unique war-torn twist. His guitar lines are often Middle Eastern as well, and his heavily accented croon is beautiful while still extremely common sounding. While Steven Wilson is undoubtedly a genius, Geffen steals the album.

The arrangements are simple and tasteful, usually just one guitar, one piano, bass, drums, and the voices of the two men. They manage to come off in a progressive way, however, a la early Jethro Tull or solo David Gilmour. Simple, refined, yet unabashedly prog.

In the vein of Porcupine Tree's recently released magnum opus Fear of a Blank Planet, quite a few of Blackfield II's material sounds hopeless and depressed: highlights "1000 People" and "End of the World" offer only the faintest of glimmers of hope, while "My Gift of Silence" and "This Killer" leave the listener as suicidal as the composers potentially were when writing them. Steven Wilson can be given full credit for making his guitar and keyboard lines effectively translate the songs' lyrical content and overall moods: he has always had a way of making his instruments emotional (though the guest appearances from fellow porcupines Gavin Harrison and Richard Barbieri probably help).

Without a doubt, this is one of the defining prog statements of 2007. Steven Wilson has, like Peter Gabriel, attempted to unite a world torn asunder through the magic of music, playing with an Israeli bandmate and ensemble in a way that gives the music of both east and west the spotlight for the world at large. Also like Gabriel, Wilson has released a prog album outside of the context of a legendary prog band with great success. To the doubters and naysayers, I think this album is enough to make you shut up. May there be a Blackfield III and more to come.

Report this review (#133692)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars Another great little collection of songs to slash your wrists to from Blackfield. I'm pretty much sure that's the goal of this particular Steven Wilson project.

But seriously the music is beautiful, but the lyrics mostly all depressing and about emotional pain, anguish, loss, etc. Still, I like it. It's actually a little more upbeat lyrically than the first, which I find more progressive musically, and was the one that sucked me in to Blackfield, as well as got me to check out many of the rest of Mr. Wilson's projects outside of Porcupine Tree.

Sorry, folks, no metal guitar licks here if that's what you're expecting, in fact I don't think there are any SW projects that really deliver that like the PT. The style here is mostly dark and mellow. It's one of the many fine offerings by Steven and others for 2007.

Report this review (#148622)
Posted Friday, November 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Backfield - Backfield II 3.75 stars.

Once again Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen come back and deliver another great album. This album has a few songs that are the best in their catalogue thus far, but it also has some track that tend to be dull musically and lyrically.something that the debut album did not contain. Otherwise we are getting more of the same on this album, a collection of some great songs with catchy verses and melodies. The most notable difference is the Aviv Geffen finally sings on more then a very few tracks! So if you liked his voice and the first album, don't hesistate to check this album out.

The standout songs on this album and in my opinion beat most of the tracks on the first one are; 'Once', 'Miss U', 'Some Day' and 'End of the World'. Other then these I find most of the tracks on the debut to be better.

Like I said before, if you are a fan of the first, you will like this one too. There isn't too much of a different sound then the debut, just newer songs. I just did not find it as good, 3.75 stars, a very good album.

Report this review (#155164)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I don’t know why most people try to compare Blackfield with Porcupine Tree because of Steven Wilson’s participation in the project. From my point of view, these bands are very different and play diverse music, but both are perfect in their own way.

First, Blackfield is not prog. I can’t call it prog just because there is nothing proggy in their music. But, nevertheless, I like Blackfield as a rock-band, and Steven, good for you, that you don’t try to make your projects strongly Porcupinish.

1. Once (9/10). A great opener, very similar to the first album’s opener - “Open Mind” (acoustic part/ heavy part).

2. 1,000 People (7/10). This track is very slow and emotional. The lyrics, I suppose, are based on Aviv’s life experience.

3. Miss U (8/10). A good track with a nice solo at the end.

4. Christenings (9/10). The start of something more interesting is here – very Porcupinish song, with a great chorus.

5. This Killer (8/10). A mellow song with a sweat solo by Steven.

6. Epidemic (9/10). A more diverse and strained song, with very pleasant backgrounds keyboards.

7. My Gift Of Silence (7/10). Nothing special I noticed in this song, but actually it’s quite good.

8. Some Day (8.5/10). Very nice track with (once again) a glorious work of keyboards. Good job, Aviv!

9. Where Is My Love? (9,5/10). I just love this track. It’s short but really inspired – magnificent guitars, catching lyrics. Beautiful.

10. End Of The World (7/10). A good final, but, unfortunately, it’s too long.

Conclusion: A good second shot by Aviv and Steven. Sometimes we all need to have a rest after all these 30+ prog-epics and just to have some rest. And Blackfield is the best way to do it – it is exactly the music for relaxing and resting.

Report this review (#160014)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I found the Blackfield debut album very nice. Nothing special but a very good album, and I had been looking forward to checking their sophmore album out. I´m a bit disappointed really. It´s not the quality of the music though as it is high enough. It´s more the fact that it´s almost the same concept done over again with no new challenges or innovative things to be excited about.

The music is a mix of the more poppy Porcupine Tree and more commercial music. This is essentially pop done a slightly prog way. This time the music is even more commercial than on the debut and I´m having a hard time imagining myself listening to this in a couple of months. The lyrics are horribly simple and evolve around depressive/ melancholic subjects. I like those subjects a lot, but here it´s not done with finesse. It´s like getting a hammer in the face when Steven Wilson sings: I WANNA DIE IN THIS MOMENT on 1,000 People and that´s even one of the better ones in my ears.

Well all is not terrible and the sound quality and general production is very high, I just wish Wilson and Geffen would try some other tricks in the book, but I guess Steven Wilson gets his prog tendencies out in Porcupine Tree.

Don´t think this sounds much like Porcupine Tree even though Steven Wilson plays in this band. The structure of the songs are very basic Vers/ chorus and there are virtually no instrumental parts.

Because of the high production skills and the good compositions ( professionally speaking) this gets a 3 star rating from me, but it´s not something I´ll listen to very often, and if I want to hear Blackfield I prefer the debut.

Report this review (#161184)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another album from the fun-meister Steve Wilson. This time with the comparably very cheerful Mr Geffen.

once is an upbeat decent pop track. Yeah!!

1,000 people opens with characteristic Stevo happiness: 1,000 people smiling at me/but i want to die ... nice one Steve! Just when i thought it was possible to listen to an album involving Steve without reaching for the razor blades I'm conftonted with Now This is What i Call Music to Slash My Wrists To Volume II. Time to dig put my Smith s collection to cheer me up. Seriously why is this guy's music so unbearably miserable?

Miss U is about another failed relationship but hey it's positively uplifting compared to 1,000 people.

Christening has an impressive Beatles feel. Great track. Pop from the top drawer. Still laced with a modcum of sombre music but hey it's Steve!

This Killer opens with a lovely guitar sound: reminds me of Lee Ritenour: fabulous sound. Of course, Steve jumps in and introduces his melancholic tones. Here it works. throughout there remains this beautiful guitar sound (nothing complex in terms of playing but it's just a fabuluous recording of guitar: for me it cuts through everything). Beautiful and clean.

Epidemic: not another break up song but this one is tinged with jealously. Oh please: An epidemic in my heart/Takes hold and slowly poisons me/Her will won't let me beIt comes in waves and bleeds me dry/This love is slowly killing me/For me, there's noone else

Gift of Silence is a musical shot in the arm for the album: uplifting. But the lyrics: The smile on my lips is a sign that I don't hear you leaving me/And I don't hear my own soul scream. Jeez but can someone please cheer these guys up!!!?

So, what's the verdict? I always find Steve Wilson difficult. Themes are so depressing and morose but the craft is excellent.

for me life is too short to be draged down into the depths of despond by this ... if you're a fan buy it & you will enjoy it otherwise look elsewhere.

Report this review (#165504)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK, I confess..... I love Blackfield...... Again I am tempted to give 5 stars.....This is another beautiful and melodic addition to the mellow out section of my collection..... You won't hear anything heavy here....but if you like the more melodic songs from Porcupine Tree....or if you are sometimes in the mood for to slow it down a will love this....
Report this review (#166526)
Posted Sunday, April 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wrist-slitting time

Not the cheeriest CD ever released, with the subject matter ranging from "I wanna die" to "it's the end of the world". If it wasn't for the majestic melodies, this would have you reaching for the Joy Division CD's in a bid for a bit of light relief. This second release from Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen is basically the shorter and more melodic side of Porcupine Tree ("Lazarus" from "Deadwing" would fit in nicely here) and it's certainly chock full of wonderful melodies from start to the afore-mentiond "End of the World". This is Steven Wilson reining in his prog tendencies a bit and going for the shorter songs, which would not sound out of place on mainstream radio. Give it a few listens and the hooks get into your brain and stay there. Featuring the distinctive Porcupine Tree harmonies and chord changes, this is perfect for those of you who prefer the shorter and simpler side of PT. Just don't expect any jokes.

Report this review (#172243)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Like the first Blackfield output, this is a good album (perhaps better than the first), but it nevertheless has no room getting high ratings on a progressive music site.

This release shows Wilson and Geffen expanding their collaboration, sounding like a couple of guys who actually worked together on a release. Geffen's contributions are more present and more well- developed. However, there really is nothing much new offered by Blackfield II. The melancholic atmospherism of earlier Blackfield tracks like Glow is mostly not around here. Instead, the music is built mostly on a singer/songwriter feel. Some of the parts are heavier than any on the first release, and the lyrics are even darker and more upset (a major feat, to be honest). However, like the first, this is just a collection of mostly mature pop, not really moving beyond the standard realm of short and simplistic tunes or even dabbling in the idea of a particular album cohesion. The sound is wonderful, as we've come to expect from Porcupine Tree's main man, but even still, no amount of clever production can turn average pop songs into high quality progressive music releases.

It all begins with Once, a track that delves in the heavier side of things for parts of its length. It is very similar to Open Mind off the first Blackfield. 1,000 People is a sad and lonely tune, in keeping with the album's theme. Miss U, complete with a very 90s title, is a whining and sad tune about missing somebody (big surprise, though I will be honest and admit that before I read the lyrics, I was hoping it would be about Mississippi University and not the obvious teenage drama it implies). Christenings is the first song really worth something on here, being one of Deadwing's myriad lost B-sides. An acoustic number with an upbeat vocal melody, it actually drags the album out of its mire of self-pity for a few (too few) minutes. It's followed by self loathing in the form of This Killer, another pop tune with little to stand out about it. Epidemic, however, is another of the three quality tracks here, beginning with a haunting little piano melody and building to a guitar solo and some powerful vocal harmonies. Unfortunately, to temper this onslaught of quality, the next three tracks explode with mediocre pop sounds. They aren't bad, just... normal, I suppose. The album closer is the strongest track here, with the two splitting up the verses between them and crying out in heartbreaking harmony for the chorus. The production, the sound, and the songwriting all line up wonderfully on this song, and this might just be a necessary listen for fans of Steven Wilson.

A par to sub-par album filled with mostly generic pop tunes, Blackfield II builds on the first with a few nice songs that rise above the rest, but even so, only serious fans of Porcupine Tree should bother checking this out as a prog release.

Report this review (#185335)
Posted Saturday, October 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is an edit, as I think I wrote less than 100 words last time.

What I said is that I really liked this album, but only gave 3 stars because I don't really think it is really a prog album - although it has some spacey/ psychedelic undertones and is somewhat "arty". 3 stars means it's non-essential - and in a Prog collection that would be about right. However, it also means it's "good" - and I mean really good.

If you like the more psyche-poppy Steve Wilson songs you find on Porcupine Tree's "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun" then you'll like this - it appears to be a good channel for SW to follow this more pop-psyche-rock tendency - which he is really good at (and that is not meant as an insult at all).

This offers lovely melodies throughout, and is something your girlfriend is more likely to like than Porcupine Tree (sorry no offence meant to all you Prog-chicks!!!)

My favourite is "My Gift of Silence" - this is a truly lovely song, actually the most like Porcupine Tree (whereas surprisingly "Christenings" which guests Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison - is not so much)

I'm aware that I shouldn't compare Blackfield with Porc Tree - and that's right it's meant to be a different project with a different sound - and SW has succeeded - it is different, and a nice alternative channel for admirers of his gentler and more melodious music.

Oh yes - Aviv Geffen - yes his songs are good too.

Recommended - but be warned if you are a prog-purist.

Report this review (#214110)
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Blackfield's second instalment is hardly any different from the debut, the sound is a bit less polished, but at its heart, this is the result of Wilson's need to try out his mellow pop songs on us.

Just as one the first Blackfield he is quite successful in some tracks but comes off rather bland on others. The most melancholic songs are the most enjoyable. The bitter sweet taste of 1000 people and This Killer are a couple of tunes I occasionally listen to. Most of the songs pass by without causing any commotion. Those sung by Aviv Geffen are the worst, not in the least because of his more conventional pop vocals and inadequate English accent. Miss U is one that I just can't bear to hear.

An album that sounds like a routine job, not bad but simply forgettable. 2.5 stars.

Report this review (#275800)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Blackfield II' - Blackfield (8/10)

While musical renaissance man Steven Wilson devotes most of his musical efforts towards his main band Porcupine Tree, he also has a number of side projects in which he shows off different dimensions of himself and his work. Pairing up with Israeli art rock icon Aviv Geffen, the project Blackfield shows Steven Wilson's trademark sound being done over with a succinct pop sensibility. The follow-up to the first Blackfield record shows a marked improvement, and seeks to set the project apart from merely being a piece of Porcupine Tree apocrypha as many deem it to be.

Even in interviews, Geffen and Wilson have stated that Blackfield is meant to be nothing more than an exploration of short, catchy, concise songs and simple expression of emotion. Indeed, there are no prog rock indulgences and complex instrumental sections, only songs that could just as easily be played intimately to a coffee shop audience without having lost any of their power. As might come to be expected from two highly esteemed artists as Geffen and Wilson, the songwriting is very strong, and conveys some sincere sadness in charming, bitesize portions. However, while the songwriting may be simple and to-the-point, the way in which these songs are produced and arranged is anything but. Much like Porcupine Tree, Blackfield's music is fleshed out beautifully through Steven Wilson's expertise with production, and the sound usually has just as much going into it as any prog rock album. Ambiance, vocal harmonies, and even a string section courtesy of the Downtown Session Orchestra take part in making the songs come alive, which takes 'Blackfield II' from being a merely good record, to a truly great one.

While Steven Wilson may be the one that receives the most accolades and respect for Blackfield, it is in fact Aviv Geffen who does most of the songwriting here, although he does seem to take a backseat when it comes to the execution of it all. Geffen's songwriting style is generally more melancholic and sentimental than Wilson's here, and such songs as '1000 People' and 'End Of The World' are instantly memorable pieces of writing. Wilson is also no pushover when it comes to the writing here, and pens some incredible work here like the catchy 'Once' and 'My Gift Of Silence', the latter of which being the album's remarkable highlight and could have easily fit on one of Porcupine Tree's more melodic albums.

Blackfield proves itself as being more than a mere experiment as some thought it out to be at first with the second album. Although the first certainly had some very good material on it, 'Blackfield II' outdoes it in virtually every way. Not a completely remarkable album from start to finish, but there is plenty of excellence to go around here.

Report this review (#456066)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I must begin by saying that this isn't prog. Therefore a 4 star rating may seem a little high, but I feel 3 stars isn't worthy enough for such a good album.

The genre of Blackfield II is soft rock and the songs are simple and pretty straight forward; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, etc. Orchestral strings are always there to emphasize the album's atmosphere and emotion, and of course the album is dominated by different sounding guitars, like acoustic, atmospheric and distorted. The songs are mainly sung by Steven Wilson but hearing 'the other guy', Aviv Geffen is a breath of fresh air. The songs are mainly about emotional depressing things such as break ups. Here are some lyrics to give you the idea:

"...But I wanna die in this moment, I wanna die..." "...Tomorrow you'll be gone and I'll miss you..." "...So find the highest cliff and dive..."

The problems I must address are: The first song sounds too 'pop rock' and the second puts me off due to its 'I wanna die' lyrics. It's disappointing that such a great album begins with two weak songs but the rest make up for it. I especially love the beautiful 'End of the World,' which closes the album. Overall this is a pleasant album for when I feel like a laid-back listening session. I recommend this album. 4 stars.

Report this review (#554306)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is far from being progressive but close to bring pop music into a more progressive perspective, is that possible? yeas, of course, Steven Wilson has always being considered for being a perfectionist and explorer of new horizons. No Man is the melancholic side; Porcupine Tree, the experimental side; IEM, the instrumental side; Bass Communion, the weird side; and of course Blackfield, the pop side. The second delivery brings us more "commercial" (none of the songs is commercial, but it sounds more audible for any listener) together with melancholic songs. Blackfield II has this type of music with great care in different aspects: the lyrics, the message they try to convey, the musical aspects, the background of every song, the instrumentation, the voices ... essential aspects of progressive rock, that's why this album is one of my favorite ones.
Report this review (#1034803)
Posted Saturday, September 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Blackfield II is the 2nd (of course) album by the Steven Wilson/Aviv Geffin project. The music is very similar to Porcupine Tree's music, but in much shorter run times and more radio friendly. This album is quite similar to the first album where Wilson was heading the band as far as what you hear, but Geffin wrote most of the lyrics. Wilson also sings most of the songs except for 'Miss U'. This is the only track Geffin sings this time around except for where he shares lead vocals w/Wilson on 'Epidemic', 'Where Is My Love?' and 'End of the World'.

The songs are in the same vein as the debut album, drenched with strings and keyboards with only some short instrumental breaks. The songs are mostly around the 4 minute mark and only one, 'End of the World' slightly surpassing the 5 minute mark. The tracks are a little better developed on this album, but still seem to be lacking in this department.

Wilson's intention for Blackfield was to let Geffin eventually have control over the project, and while these songs are more penned by Geffin, they still have much influence from Wilson, and it really sounds that way too as it has his familiar tone and sound to the music, which is a good thing. The next album, 'Welcome to My DNA' would see Wilson step more into the background, and thus the quality of the music immediately suffered for it.

As for this album, it is still great music with great lyrics and great emotion from Wilson's influence. It still suffers from being more radio friendly and thus a lack of song development. Still, these are great, mostly straightforward songs that merit 4 stars. Porcupine Tree lovers will still love it and so will some others that don't like the extensive use of instrumentals in PT's music. For me, it suffers from there not being enough exploration, but I still find these songs a step above the normal radio friendly songs. The album is only slightly better than the debut album in I think the songs are better, but others may disagree. Nevertheless, the improvement is slight and not enough to elevate the rating over the debut album. Still, it's worth checking out.

Report this review (#2056536)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2018 | Review Permalink

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