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WELCOME TO MY DNA

Blackfield

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4 stars Perhaps more luminous than Blackfield II, musically talking, which means a departure from some previous compositions they've got us used to, still retaining some essence in songs like "Far Away", "Rising of the tide", "On The Plane" and maybe "Glasshouse", all good songs by the way.

Now let's see what I didn't expect: "Go to hell" is the first really unexpected thing when you start listening to the album, irate lyrics later drowned in beautiful melodies, anger can be better understood as one natural state of the spirit when expressed with beauty.

"Waving", led by a lively acoustic guitar riff, it's the happiest song of the album and maybe the happiest Blackfield song ever, wich evolves in crescendo with vocals, strings and backing vocals gradually joining in and then exploding in a pop chorus. A hook song that has a videoclip, and you can consider a possible Single candidate.

"Dissolving with the night" shows a fabulous compromise with the songwriting, a somewhat dark ballad with heartbreaking vocals by Aviv. Then the quiet piano melody becomes sinister to be finally flood by an orchestral raid. A highlight with no doubt for me.

"Blood" is much like a crucial moment of the record, an omen warning that "Here comes the blood", a vivace suddenly emerged from beneath some Middle East sands.

"On the plane" is a subtle ballad with a memorable chorus, a very good functional song to mantain the flow in the record.

"Oxygen" is the most pop song I've heard from Blackfield, and when it comes to pop, Aviv is an expert, and he did it really well (helped by the production of Trevor Horn). If there were a single taken from the album some time, aside from "Waving", it would be probably this.

"Zigota" is definitely another highlight, courtesy of Aviv Geffen, a different version of a song included in his "Memento Mori" album.

"DNA", finally, helps you understand the whole background concept. I would liked an epic ending in the vein of "End of the World", this is rather a bittersweet ending but still a very good song that stands on its own.

Something more to remark: The album includes the best string and orchestra arrangement effort of the whole three albums, in my opinion.

Why not to give it five stars? Well, maybe some of the lyrics that are too simplistic, and a few songs seem to have an unfinished ending. But this is a very well balanced record and has the Blackfield standard quality you do expect, which won't disappoint you, and one more time Steven Wilson is vindicated as a genius of the audio engineering.

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Send comments to synesthetize (BETA) | Report this review (#423173)
Posted Saturday, March 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I want to begin this review by stating that this is a good album, it has some wonderful tracks, full of pop hooks and completed with typically melancholic Blackfield lyrics. However, there are some truly bizarre, or downright silly angsty lyrics which ruin much of this album. Now I won't dwell on these lyrics because they aren't all bad, and in part, they succinctly fit the feel and tone of the album.

Blackfield's typical style of semi-acoustic melancholic pop-rock is as catchy as ever here. Aviv Geffen's role as the major songwriter is a nice break from Steven Wilson's somewhat elevated status in the contemporary music world. Anyway, there are plenty of hooks to keep the listener engaged, and the occasional up-tempo or crunchier riff, just to keep sound fresh. There is nothing here that will challenge any Blackfield (or Wilson veterans), however, the passages of melodic distortion found in tracks like "Blood" and "Zigota" are very well done. And as usual, the production is immaculate. Now, as far as rock albums go, I can't have too many complaints about the music. It's all very introspective and emotional. Nothing groundbreaking, nor offensively dull. However, the lyrics define 'patchy.' There are some decent lines like:

"The wolves are out tonight, and they're looking for a fight"

And then there are some truly horrid ones like:

"F**k you all, f**k you, I don't care".

Now you can read whatever psychological interpretations into those lyrics that you want. And interpret them in the context of the entire album, but it doesn't change the fact that they are painful to listen to. Cathartic for the writer - perhaps. Not for me. On balance, the lyrics shouldn't hurt the album, but in my opinion they do. Whenever I hear Steven Wilson call some presumably antagonist character a "bitch", I can't but feel a sense angst that belies the album. Make no mistakes, it's all well indeed to write about melancholic sentiments and personal fulfillment, but such emotionally prozaic lyrics seem to contradict the mature and poised nature of much of the music, and indeed many of the other lyrical passages.

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Send comments to Any Colour You Like (BETA) | Report this review (#425253)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Welcome to my DNA -- Blackfield

Being the third Blackfield LP release, Welcome to my DNA shows songwriters/composers/band leaders Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson in top form.

Welcome to my DNA isn't much of a departure from the basic Blackfield sound; pop hooks, melancholic lyrics and themes, and short, concise tracks. This may contain perhaps more of a melancholic tone than Blackfield's two previous albums, but it's not anthing radically different. Israeli artist Aviv Geffen has taken a step further into the spotlight, writing an extremely large majority of the material on this particular album.

The postives of the album are the great melodies and the wonderful string arrangements, which have a very organic feel to them. Aviv's vocals seem to have improved and Steven's are as soothing and pleasant as they have always been. The production of the album is, of course, magnificent. There are very few negatives to this album; one is the lack of change or evolution. Blackfield, though a pop-rock outfit, haven't changed much at all, though this is most likely what Aviv and Steven have intended. Another negative is the somewhat lack of substance. The songs seem a little more basic than usual, with less eclecticity than on previous efforts.

If you're a fan of Blackfield, get this album. Even if you're not a fan, I would certainly recommend a listen. While the album isn't a masterpiece, it's a very good release, once again, from Blackfield.

Standout tracks: "Go to Hell", "Waving", "On the Plane", "Zigota", and "DNA"

4 Stars.

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Send comments to The Monodrone (BETA) | Report this review (#428399)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "...Goodbye old friend, my Paranoid, We'll meet again, some day..."

Finally, here's the much-awaited third installment from Blackfield - that rather unexpected, unlikely, if not to say surreal collaboration between the British stiff-upper-lip über-nerd, Master Producer/singer/guitarist Steven Wilson and his Israeli counterpart - friend, emo-rocker, peace-activist and rebel - Aviv Geffen. While the majority of fans might have expected it to be called 'III', in line with the two earlier albums, this one actually carries a genuine title - 'Welcome To My DNA', and I'd like to say that it reflects on the music as well. However much still being a typical melodic, melancholic Blackfield-outing, this one is indeed a mite different from the pair's earlier outputs.

Don't worry, Blackfield still provides being the perfect alternative/refuge for all of those who feel like Mr. S.W. hammed it up a bit too much on his latest outputs with his main band, the much heralded Porcupine Tree , with which he increasingly incorporated heavy metal/industrial influences. As I myself quite appreciate those, I didn't mind that at all, but I did look out for this third Blackfield-outing to provide the much desired for counterbalance to that heavier stuff of his, as I must admit appreciating his - and Geffen's, of course! - lovely, intimate 'little' 'pop' songs just as much.

These differences don't yet show on the opener 'Glass House', a typical intimate, very melodic, orchestrated song, combined with highly melancholic lyrics, '' ...life is running out, I guess I had enough, I need to go now...'' The next song, however, is a genuine shocker! 'Go To Hell' gives us S.W. and Aviv singing "F*ck You All, F*ck You, I don't care, Go To Hell!" - NOT exactly what I expected to hear on a Blackfield-album ...

To understand the background of this album and quite a few of those rather prosaic lyrics, it should be noted that this is more Mr. Aviv Geffen's than Mr. S.W.'s album. As told many times by S.W. himself, his Israeli emo-rocker-friend quite often got too little credits for his work on Blackfield's former outputs, and it's rather obvious that S.W. wanted to set things right, here, claiming only ONE track - 'Waving' as his own on this entire album. Not just that - Aviv Geffen's background as rebellious Middle Eastern-peace activist quite shines through from all of the lyrics, and it's not that hard to see where his inspiration's coming from, considering the situation in his homeland and the countries surrounding it. S.W. has claimed that he at times doesn't want to sing Geffen's texts, as they sometimes are just too 'political' for his tastes, but apparently the ones on 'DNA' got the Green Light from him, and I'm very glad about that myself. Yes, I think they * work *, but I can well understand not everyone agreeing with me on this.

Some of the (many) highlights on this album, as I won't name them all... Not surprisingly, most of these happen to be among the most 'oddball' songs - very surprisingly, however, all of these are to be found on the second part of the album:

'Blood' - a dark, brooding, and even heavy song, obviously inspired by the Middle Eastern struggles going on over there. You just feel there's something 'nasty' looming in the background during this fantastic song. I just love the Arabic elements incorporated in this song, truly adding up to a genuine 'symphonic feel', which of course doesn't hurt either.

'On The Plane' - an intimate ballad, expressing 'loneliness' in both its lyrics as well as with its instrumentation, the moody slide guitar from 'Christenings' of Blackfield II making a welcome and fitting reappearance over here. Very personal lyrics from Geffen, about being a lonely child always waiting for his absent father, fantastically sung by the both of the guys - a perfect little intimate trademarked Blackfield tune.

'Oxygen' - very melodic, even 'poppy', this song. Geffen's vocals are immaculate over here, he truly sounds desperate in his account on '... so far away, we've lost the way - there's no oxygen left, on our planet'', which I interpret as a metaphore to his desperation about the never-ending warfare which is so apparent in his part of 'our planet'. According to the liner notes, one Mr. Trevor Horn has helped producing this one, and it shows the old Yes acquaintance hasn't lost his tricks yet!

'Zigota' - this one, in particular, is THE highlight of this album. WHAT a beauty! A remake of this earlier song by Geffen (it's on his 'Memento Mori'-album), this comes as close to progressive rock as Blackfield will ever manage. It starts off with S.W. singing very diminutively, over a Hammond organ-based orchestration, which adds up and becomes more and more symphonic over the course of the song. It's awesome, and yes, it even reminds me of S.W.'s classic 'Radioactive Toy' in certain ways - the organ, the slow, crescendo psychedelic background - any a fan shouldn't be allowed to miss out on this one. 'Don't you cry, don't you cry, you are just an Accident of Stars'' - what a heartbreaking line, how more melancholically poetic can it get?

' DNA' - the perfect, subtle - but very bittersweet - conclusion of this album. Initially an acoustic guitar-tune, it builds up very progressively, backed up by awesome string arrangements. Beautiful lyrics, ''Always remaining the same, my DNA (...) My deadly venom, soon we'll be dead. Go now, my love, Go now, and never come back... '

I'll be the first to admit it, the lyrics on this album, however emotional, and at times even prosaic, manage to touch my heart. I truly understand this won't go for everyone though, and some may even dislike this album for this very reason.

Musically, this one's a little less easily accessible than their two earlier outputs, but it does stand its ground - if you're just able to give it the time it deserves to discover the beautiful sad-but-uplifting melodies, the great singing jobs of both S.W. and Aviv, the fantastic orchestration, the outstanding job of all musicians involved, and of course, the pristine-as-ever production/mixing job by S.W., who once again proves himself as the current top in production/mixing.

My verdict: a well-deserved 4 stars. Perhaps 4 and a half for those who, just like me, LOVE the combination of sweet, melancholic and highly melodic prog-pop with highly emotional sung lyrics, perhaps 3, for those who don't appreciate the indeed at times 'over the top' emotional, if not right-out prosaic lyrics. Your's to choose which side your on.

''Trust me, there's no get away, from my DNA'' - AMEN to that, Blackfield!

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Send comments to Antennas (BETA) | Report this review (#448526)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2011 | Review Permalink

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