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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.

Report this review (#423173)
Posted Saturday, March 26, 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.

Report this review (#428399)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 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, '' 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!

Report this review (#448526)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars This third release by Blackfield, known here due to the involvement of Steven Wilson, continues the collaboration's between one of the most prolific musicians in art/prog music and Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen. I found Blackfield enjoyable for the most part, Blackfield II laborious, but not quite disappointing, and now with Welcome to My DNA unpleasant in exactly the ways I was expecting.

The songs are short, warm, melancholic, and filled with lush instrumental sounds. They have the stellar production values we've come to expect with anything bearing Wilson's name, and the combination of background sounds - strings, keyboards, guitar textures - is the overwhelming highlight of this album. The writing is serviceable for the album's goals, and is actually sometimes quite interesting, such as in the jaunty and drifting "Waving," or the intensity and time changes in "Zigota." Mostly, though, the songs are just nice.

But this is a "pop" album, so there's bound to be plenty of singing for "normal" people to "enjoy." (OK, no more "excessive" finger quotes).

Wilson's vocals are smooth as always, though noticeably more bland then in his principle works. He sits comfortably in his middle register and doesn't give the listener much to walk away or help connect with. Remember the soaring passion heard in Hand.Cannot.Erase? Or maybe the skillful inflection on In Absentia's "Trains"? There isn't an ounce of that here. Ironic, given that Blackfield albums are meant to be emotional pop records. Geffen's vocals are not as good. In fact... they're actually quite unpleasant. In timbre and inflection he comes across as sniveling. Suffice to say that it's distracting and draws the ear away from the fine tones and chords of the music in the background. However, the real strike against Welcome to My DNA is the puerile lyrics, which sort of grumble their angst-filled way from song to song. Some of them are genuinely bad, others are offensive, some noticeably poetic, but mostly they're just boring.

If this were an instrumental album, then I'd be on-board and enjoying the experience much more. The vocals, and therefore the album simply don't work for me, and unless you're a 100% die-hard Steven Wilson fan-boy, it probably won't for you either (as it turns out, I'm only a 99.9% fan-boy).

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 2 - Lyrics/Vocals: 1 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#1581531)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Team
3 stars Blackfield's 3rd album 'Welcome to My DNA' finally starts to see Steven Wilson step back and let Aviv Geffen take charge. Wilson promised that Geffen would be taking charge of the band eventually, plus Wilson was also busy working on his solo albums. In this album, Wilson only wrote one track, 'Waving'. All of the others are written by Geffen only or with some help from Wilson. Geffen is also singing more of the songs on this one, with Wilson only singing lead on only 5 of the 11 tracks, though he does help on backup. Of course, Wilson continues to add guitar parts and is in charge of production. Wilson would also continue to step back even further on subsequent albums.

Right away, the music is not as well developed as on the past two albums. The tracks continue to be short, with the longest one, 'Zigota' being the only one that reaches the 5 minute mark, and most of the tracks staying around 3 to 4 minutes. The tracks are nice and lush, reminding one of the orchestrations of The Beatles and even Pink Floyd from time to time, but the tracks suffer overall from the brevity. Just as the songs seem to be going somewhere, they end. They also suffer from the lesser involvement of Wilson, who is the stronger songwriter and musician.

A few of the songs, like 'Go to Hell' and 'Oxygen', are embarrassingly bad when it comes to lyrical content and inventiveness in the musicianship. The point of the band was for Geffen to improve as he took more involvement in the band, but he hasn't been improving and now the added responsibility seems to be drowning him. Now, the album isn't a complete write off. Of course, 'Waving' is one of the strongest tracks on here, and sounds like just like a track Steven Wilson would do, except for maybe a little poppy, but still enjoyable. Geffen does almost hit the mark on 'Dissolving with the Night', especially when the song starts to pick up some tension in the middle and into the ending. 'Blood' is mostly instrumental except for a few vocal interludes and it is more aggressive than most of the rest of the album and is a nice change of pace.

The aim was to keep things majestic, yet simple. Things are majestic enough especially because of the orchestration, but they are also simple, much too simple. The music doesn't really challenge at all, and just seems to lack development. The beauty and darkness from the previous 2 albums is missed very much. Geffen's attempt at the same darkness is usually laughable on this album.

Overall, the minuses are much more apparent than the few pluses. Wilson's lesser involvement is felt on this album, and with only a few nice songs and sections, the album doesn't really reach the pinnacle of the last two albums. It squeaks by with 3 stars, but only because of the nice string arrangements and the excellent production. The songs for the most part, however, lack substance.

Report this review (#2024775)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2018 | Review Permalink

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