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Blackfield - Blackfield IV CD (album) cover




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2.75 | 181 ratings

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2 stars Blackfield exists because of a collaborative project between the great Steven Wilson and a mostly unheard of outside of Isreal singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen. It has been hinted through the years that this project was more Aviv's baby than it was Steven's, even though he was a major force in the frist 2 Blackfield albums and sang on most of the songs, produced and mixed the albums and played most of the instruments. Wilson said that he was going to be having less involvement with Blackfield when the 3rd album "Welcome to My DNA" was released and it was quite apparent that was the case. Now, with the forth album, SW has given the reins over to Geffen almost completely and has given very minimal help with this album because he was focusing on his solo projects and was holding up the progress of Blackfield.

The Blackfield albums were more on the light progressive side and were always programmed with relatively short songs, trying to reach a wide audience. SW's presence was definitely felt on the first 2 albums, and even though the sound is progressive lite, it was still decent material, well orchestrated and full of beautiful, heartfelt songs, similar in style to Porcupine Tree with less development and improvisation. Now with SW's involvement mostly gone, we are left with only a shell of a band. Aviv's songs are definitely more pop oriented. Even the alternative side of the music is missing here for the most part.

Steven Wilson still sings lead on "Pills" and on "Jupiter" which are the 2 best songs on here. He also sings backup on the terrible "Sense of Insanity", but other than production, you don't hear anything else from Wilson here and the record suffers big time for it. Three other guest singers also participate here, but they have a hard time saving these weak tracks. Vincent Cavanaugh from the great band Anathema sings lead vocals on "X-Ray", Brett Anderson, a popular British artist sings on "Firefly" and Jonathan Donahue from The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, both excellent experimental bands, sings lead on "The Only Fool is Me". However, just like all of the other tracks on here, these songs are corny and weak and the guest vocalists, as great as they are, can't even save these songs. The rest of the tracks are helmed by Geffen, and they aren't any better. One positive about the album is that the instrumental passages are beautiful, lush and well orchestrated, but the lyrics and the melodies bring the songs down to a very amateur-ish style of songwriting. Over the years, you would think that SW's influence might have rubbed off on Geffen, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Geffen has said that he has convinced Wilson to keep his guitar solos down below 2 minutes, and Wilson was fine with that, Wilson wanted Geffen to take the band over. But now, there is hardly any guitar in any of the songs, just mostly the lush orchestration. The songs are also underdeveloped which is something I thought was usually a downfall of Blackfield, but now they are worse than ever, with all of the songs only lasting under 4 minutes on this album, and with 11 tracks and with the album only lasting barely over a half an hour (should have been an EP), the songs really have no room to breath, and when they do seem to be going somewhere and approaching something interesting, they are suddenly cut short. The sound of the album is very good, but the quality of the songs just isn't there. Geffen likes to compare Blackfield with Radiohead, King Crimson and Pink Floyd. He's got a long way to go. These songs are sometimes even too cheesy for pop songs. 2 stars and that is only because the production is so good on this.

TCat | 2/5 |


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