Blackfield – Blackfield

2004 (Snapper Music)

1: Open Mind (3:49)
2: Blackfield (4:06)
3: Glow (4:00)
4: Scars (3:57)
5: Lullaby (3:29)
6: Pain (3:47)
7: Summer (4:12)
8: Cloudy Now (3:34)
9: The Hole In Me (2:47)
10: Hello (3:09)
Bonus CD:
1: Perfect World (3:53)
2: Where Is My Love? (3:01)
3: Cloudy Now [live] (3:46)
4: Blackfield (4:01)

Within music most collaborations are entered into for just one album. There are exceptions, of course, such as Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman who have made three albums together. In that regard Steven Wilson and the initially relatively unknown Israeli musician Aviv Geffen, under the name Blackfield, truly take the crown. The endeavors of these two multi-instrumentalists have led to six studio albums and a live record. The combination of Wilson’s fame with Geffen’s relative obscurity made their debut album immediately interesting in 2004.

It must be said that Geffen is immensely popular in his own country. He has released quite a few albums under his name and his concerts draw large crowds. In the early 2000s he invited Wilson to come over and the rest is history.

The material for the eponymous debut album was recorded between 2001 and 2003. The album was initially released in Israel in 2004 but thanks to Snapper Music the rest of the world could enjoy the album along with a bonus CD half a year later. Each of the ten songs on the regular album can be described as tranquil prog-pop with plenty of melody and melancholy. Regarding the tranquility the music features a couple of heavier riffs that fit well within the band’s sound. For instance the opener Open Mind has delightful Eastern riffs that pleasantly cut through the psychedelic landscape of acoustic guitars and atmospheric strings. The song is excellently drummed by Gavin Harrison, one of the three percussionists featured on the Blackfield duo’s album. Jeremy Kaplan and Chris Maitland also contribute their drumming skills. What a luxury, what taste.

The other passage with strength is found at the end of Cloudy Now, a song that is mostly intoxicatingly calm but descends into anger and frustration after a few seconds of pause. Geffen had recorded the song years before for one of his own albums. A live video from back then can be seen on YouTube and, of course, here.

The most fitting description of the album is that the music oscillates between dreamy ballads and mid-tempo prog-pop with a psychedelic art rock vibe. Belonging undoubtedly to the first category are the sultry Glow, the beautifully arranged piano piece Lullaby and the languid Summer notable for its guitar solo. On the other hand, tracks like Blackfield and Pain are the most captivating on the disc and Scars, with its unique history of origin, manages to grip you. Scars had already appeared on one of Geffen’s albums and was transported in its entirety except for the vocals. The last two songs provide a fine conclusion to this fantastic album. The Hole In Me does so by playfully toying with 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures without sounding contrived. Hello is the ultimate closing track despite what the title might suggest. The song serves as a great showcase for the abundant harmonies on the album. Above all the voices of Geffen and Wilson blend together like the ingredients of a perfect cocktail.

The album lasts only 37 minutes, which is a bit short. The accompanying bonus CD is a nice addition. This disc contains two new tracks, a live recording, and multimedia content. The first two songs, Perfect World and Where Is My Love?, are straightforward Blackfield tracks and not particularly uplifting. However a live performance of Cloudy Now is inherently okay including this one. The bonus CD is enjoyable to have but nothing more. It makes you realize that just moments ago you had pure gold in your hands.

Aviv Geffen: guitar, keyboards, vocals
Steven Wilson: guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals
Gavin Harrison: drums (1,6)
Jeremy Kaplan: drums (3,7)
Chris Maitland: drums (2,9,10)
The Mistakes: all instruments (4)
The Illusion Quartet: strings (1,5,7,10)
Daniel Salomon: conductor (1,5,7,10)
Bonus CD:
Seffy Efrati: bass (3)
Gavin Harrison: drums (1)
Chris Maitland: drums, vocals (3)
Daniel Salomon: piano, keyboards, vocals (3)

© Dick van der Heijde 2022