Question: What do you get if you cross an Israeli superstar with a respected (don’t call me) prog-rock artist from the UK? (Clue, it has nothing to do with Eurovision’s gender-bending winner Dana International.) Answer: Blackfield – the brainchild of Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson, of Porcupine Tree, who have already been causing a stir with their first eponymous album release in Geffen’s homeland.
Six months later, the eagerly awaited album is being released – in a two-CD format – across the rest of the world. Reputed fans include Radiohead, Kings Of Leon and Elbow, who this year invited Geffen on to their Glastonbury stage.
Blackfield is a 10-song strong album which heralds back to Lightbulb Sun-era Porcupine Tree. Geffen, who appeared as a backing vocalist on Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia album, once again works his elegant charm on this, taking lead vocals on Pain and The Hole in Me. Wilson sings the remaining eight songs with his trademark soothing and smooth delivery.
The pair have also collared a wide range of guest musicians to appear on the album, including the Illusion String Quartet and drummers Gavin Harrison, Chris Maitland (current and previous drummer of Porcupine Tree) and Yermi Kaplan.
Speaking on Tel Aviv radio earlier this year, Geffen and Wilson named an eclectic bunch of album influences including Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, Jeff Buckley and Mercury Rev.
And listening, it’s easy to hear how they have striven to take the melodic songwriting of both the Beach Boys and The Carpenters – strongly felt in title track Blackfield and Lullaby, with the lofty rock ambitions shared by Pink Floyd and the much-maligned Mercury Rev.
So, in essence we’re left with 10 beautifully crafted, produced and sung, catchy pop songs that should more than satisfy existing fans of both Geffen and Wilson while bringing new ones in to the clan.
I’m not completely convinced though. I wanted to love this album – instead I merely liked it, at times irritated by the smug mawkishness that bubbles throughout. However, it’s a valiant and worthy first release from the pairing, which probably sounds sensational live.