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by Travis Becker, Healer of those without need.

Blackfield is the latest expansion of the mind of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and collaborator, Aviv Geffen, who may be the lesser known of the two in America, but who has several Gold albums to his credit in his native Israel.  Blackfield's debut release, which has already achieved success overseas, is a breath of fresh air.  Far from a preachy Middle-East peacekeeping mission or another chunk of Rock fluff, Blackfield has achieved an album, which is at once both simple and harrowing and sundry and uplifting.  The band has been an on and off experiment for it's founders in song writing and recording since 2000 but the end result proves to be impeccably crafted and completely listenable.  It's a super group whose members are unknown to most of the popular music world but who achieve what most super groups can't, real chemistry and talent.

From the opening notes of "Open Mind", which contain a haunting passage of CSN-esque vocal harmonies, it's clear that Wilson and Geffen are both immensely talented.  Another section of the song follows that slams into the rest of the music with such intensity it threatens to derail the whole song and create a train wreck of rock power.  Then the song falls back into delicate harmony again.  The build up and break down is brilliantly done, I found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting for a Dream Theater cover to erupt, at several points.  The record has a huge sound that never loses its sense of intimacy, like a 60's peace and love sing along attended by the London Symphony Orchestra.  The album continues to keep the listener on his feet throughout the record with carefully placed flourished of piano, keyboard, and exceptional guitar.  There are even hints of Middle-Eastern strings and a little Drum and Bass thrown into the mix for good measure. Blackfield remain in the singer/songwriter realm but never feel overly self-pitying or hokey.  These are two veteran musicians saturating this music with heart and soul in every note.

The influences and comparisons are so multifarious that it is difficult to know where to begin.  From traces of Oasis in "Blackfield" to an almost "Empire"-era Queensryche feeling in "Open Mind" and big hunks of Nick Drake and Love scattered all over the album, there is definitely something familiar to hold onto here.  It's almost like traveling in a foreign country with all the comforts of home.  The blend of acoustic and electric instruments mirrors the harmony of the earth and stars.  The music washes over the soul like warm salt water on a beach somewhere far away from the chaos from which both men hail.  The three bonus tracks at the end are a nice addition as well, and the five-piece band that toured on the album's release proves formidable as well on the live version of "Cloudy Now", which trumps the studio take easily.  It's hard to recommend this release to everyone, like the opening line of the album suggests, an open mind is recommended, but if you're desperate for something different that won't slide easily into one genre or another, this is for you.

CD Info 

Label: Koch Records, 2005
Open Mind
Cloudy Now
Hole in Me, The
Perfect World
Where Is My Love?
Cloudy Now - (live)
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online

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