Friday, April 15, 2011

New Release: Blackfield - Welcome To My DNA

Release Date (UK): March 28, 2011
Release Date (US): April 19, 2011
Label: KScope

If you haven't heard of Blackfield, which is probably very likely, they are an art rock collaboration between Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame and Israeli rock/pop star Aviv Geffen.  In case you didn't know, I am a huge Steven Wilson fan, and I consider him to be one of the best, most diverse, and most creative musicians of our time.  Blackfield is just one of several projects he has been involved with.

Even if you have heard every song Steven Wilson has ever recorded, you still haven't heard Blackfield.  This music is textured, melodious, and somewhat mellow.  The arrangements are simple; you don't hear the odd rhythms and frenzied dynamics which sometimes proliferate Porcupine Tree's work.

The first album, simply called Blackfield, featured a few tracks written by Wilson, a few by Geffen, and the rest credited to both.  The second, Blackfield II, featured a little less Wilson and a little more Geffen, but Wilson still made a significant contribution (including my favorite track, "Christenings," which was may have been an unused Porcupine Tree song, and partial credits for "Epidemic" and "1,000 People").

When I heard about the new album, Welcome To My DNA, I decided to go the vinyl route and preorder the hand numbered vinyl version limited to 2,000 copies (I got #491).

The first thing I noticed about this album was that Wilson was only credited with writing one song, "Waving."  This struck me as a little concerning; was Blackfield evolving from a Wilson/Geffen collaboration into a project solely owned by Geffen?  I always liked Wilson's work better, and it's not a surprise that "Waving" turned out to be the best track on this album.  What is surprising is that the album is still good.  Maybe Geffen's writing is improving (after the first few listens, I do like "Glass House" and "Far Away").  Maybe the fact that Steven Wilson is still in the producer's chair is holding it together.  Who knows.

The weakest point for Welcome To My DNA?  Easily the lyrics.  Someone needs to confiscate Geffen's pen and never give it back.  I find it hard to believe the guy who wrote the lyrics to "Cloudy Now" also wrote "Go To Hell."  The lyrics to "Go To Hell" are basically this (I don't have the album on hand right now, so I may be misquoting):
F*ck you all, f*ck you.
F*ck you all, f*ck you.
I don't care.

Go to hell, go to hell,
Go to hell, go to hell...
That's deep. (Musically, it's not bad, though)

As with the other Blackfield albums, I consider this to be good, beautifully produced music, but nothing groundbreaking.  Nobody, as far as I'm aware of, creates more richly layered and elegantly textured music than Steven Wilson, and this is not an exception.

1Glass House2:56
2Go to Hell3:03
3Rising of the Tide3:47
5Far Away2:47
6Dissolving With the Night4:06
8On the Plane3:41


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