BLACKFIELD IV

blackfieldBLACKFIELD – ‘IV’
Israel’s leading counter-culture musician Aviv Geffen returns with Steve Wilson and guests for the new Blackfield album.  Started back in ’01, Blackfield and Geffen’s stock has continued to rise since ’11s Welcome To My DNA and for this 4th collaborative project, both continue to contribute writing, vocal and guitar parts.  This time they’ve enlisted the consumate vocal abilities, albeit fleeting, of Suede’s Brett Anderson, Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh and Jonathan Donahue from Mercury Rev, to help produce a graceful and sweeping slice of Pop-Rock that’s theatrical, melodramatic, in parts dangerously Pop, but always an alluring listening experience.  Donahue’s contribution is over in under 2 minutes and Cavanagh brings a equally fugacious donation.  Anderson however lends a much more note worthy addition in ‘Firefly’, which means the majority of the content is left to Geffen and Wilson.  Which is probably a good thing, but don’t be fooled into thinking IV plays to the Progressive Rock roots of its protagonists; the driving guitar and experimental time signatures are totally absent.  But then it’s never been the case for Blackfield, which appears to be Geffen’s and Wilson’s outlet to the accessibility of the mainstream.  It’s not to say IV isn’t a worthy addition – there are some unmistakable moments of porcelain smooth musicianship that’s almost peerless in its execution – such as opener ‘Pills’ which is pure Wilson and as close as we’re going to get to Porcupine Tree.  And ‘Jupiter’, complimented by that amazing sand art video, which is hugely effecting and dripping with energy and raw emotion.  Elsewhere the duo toe the line – on ‘Springtime’ which has a light heart at an uplifting core, while ‘Sense Of Insanity’ dances a little too close to the conventional.  Thankfully ‘Kissed By The Devil’ weighs in with a Rock underbelly before the Indie-jive of ‘Lost Souls’ sees the pair head back towards the floppy quiffed bands of the ’80s and ’90s.  Perhaps an unfulfilling feel of playing it safe is the difference between top marks for ingenuity and moderately balanced, but there’s enough on offer throughout IV to invite both ardent followers and the unwittingly vulnerable, to dive head first into its simple artistic pleasures.  (7)
STEVE FLETCHER

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