Friday, June 17, 2011

CD Review - Blackfield - Welcome to My DNA

It’s rare these days when I get totally geeked up about a new band (new to me anyway) and feel compelled to share but I have been totally blown away by the band Blackfield’s new CD Welcome to My DNA.

Now technically this is not a ‘new’ band to me, because it’s Porcupine Tree front-man Steven Wilson’s band, co-led with Israeli musician Aviv Geffen. On Welcome to My DNA, the band’s third release since 2000, Geffen wrote all of the songs except for one, so it’s really his vision. But Wilson, who sings a lot of the songs, brings that crisp, lush Porcupine Tree production to the whole affair.

I was actually pretty shocked to find that Geffen wrote all of these songs because the vocal melodies are so Porcupine Tree – just gorgeous vocal melodies with the PT Steven Wilson harmonies. The themes are similar as well – alienation, loss of innocence etc. The difference is that all of the 11 songs clock in between 3 and 4 minutes except for the title track, which is just over five minutes. That is a radical departure from Porcupine Tree and makes for the best of both worlds – concise songwriting plus the Porcupine Tree lushness I love. The songs are also not quite as heavy as many PT songs - rather, they are cut from the same cloth as Lazarus from Deadwing, if I had to make a comparison.

In an interview, Wilson said: Porcupine Tree would never be so focused on the art of a 3 minute pop song. Blackfield is all about the art of a great tradition pop song of verse-chorus-verse-chorus. Porcupine Tree has never been about that, although we have fraternized a little bit with the art of pop music. Porcupine Tree has always been more about horizontally complex long pieces and the album is an overall piece rather than lots of little pieces... Aviv is not a big fan of heavy music and he is not a big fan of long pieces so immediately the meeting point had to be somewhere where we were both focused on short melancholic songs.

So my take is that Blackfield songs are not pop songs, but Steven’s point is accurate otherwise. Short songs do not equal “pop,” nor do songs that have verses and choruses! But I do have to say that after just one listen to DNA I was totally hooked. I have listened to this CD more than 10 times since Sunday and I am very stoked to check out the band’s previous two releases.

Here is the first track, called Glass Houses. If you like this song, you will love this whole CD. Get it:


Anonymous said...

You go to the show in Portland (6/1 @ Aladdin)? I was gonna go, but couldn't for unforeseen reasons. i had a photo pass, too. :(

Anyway, since you're new to Blackfield, I'd recommend the s/t debut and Blackfield II.


Isorski said...

Hey Dan - No, I missed it. Same thing happened to me with Porcupine Tree - I didn't see them until the Deadwing tour and then stupidly missed Fear of a Blank tour. Never again will I miss anything to do w/Mr Wilson live.

I bought the first BW CD and am having a bit of a harder time with it - it is taking longer to sink in, much like Marillion Season's End did - same deal - lots of mid-tempo moody songs and it takes my brain a while to sort them out but I do like it a lot. Thanks for the suggestion.

Steve Turnidge said...

I saw both the Seattle and Portland shows... I feel remiss for not introducing you to Blackfield long ago!
Do pick up their "Live in New York" DVD - it's fabulous; but it will make you more irritated that you missed the Portland show...