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Blackfield - Blackfield II CD (album) cover




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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
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.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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