Artist collaborations mostly tend to yield positive results, except for the usual odd-ball here and there (Why on earth did Miley Cyrus and The Flaming Lips work together on a cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds?). While this concept of big artist collaborations is more popular in the rock and pop world, Blackfield have managed to effortlessly mould these two worlds together in the sphere of Progressive/Art Rock, which is rather unique. Comprising of England’s very own Steven Wilson and Israeli pop sensation Aviv Geffen, Blackfield has released some seminal records over their 16-year career. Fans took a huge hit when Steven Wilson announced his departure from the band for their fourth record, but their new record sees him back in action with Aviv, producing the wonder that is Blackfield V.
Blackfield are known for their extensive use of melancholia and melody, with writing subjects usually touching on everyday human emotions. This album is no less. A bit more rocky than the usual Blackfield record, the 44-minute, 13 song album runs very seamlessly, with songs that leave you in awe of just the extent of the musical prowess that is on display. Lasse Hoile’s photography work ties in with the concept of the cycle of life and the ocean, which the album loosely follows. Whilst most writing duties are still covered by Geffen, the tracks written by Steven Wilson add that special character to the final product. Songs such as ‘Family Man’, ‘How Was Your Ride?’ and ’44 to 48’ are prime examples of this. At the same time, they are strongly supported by songs that are written by Geffen, such as ‘We’ll Never Be Apart’ and ‘The Jackal’. This combination of soft angelic vocal passages coupled with rusty, raw features in the instrumentalisation adds a modern character to Blackfield’s well known sound. There is an obvious evolution that can be observed, and that is the best part about the record.
The record isn’t immune from a dull moment here and there. In comparison to the anthemic and grand theme of most songs, the song ‘Lately’ is rather uninteresting and repetitive, although the inclusion of female vocals is a very welcomed change. It only helps the record that the main tracks have been produced by none other than legendary British producer Alan Parsons (think Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Dark Side of The Moon). The soul-touching string sections from the London Sessions Orchestra are easily the ingredient that ties everything together into a wonderful package. Whilst Blackfield I and II are considered to be go-to Blackfield records, Blackfield V can certainly be added to that list.
For fans of Aviv Geffen, it’s another example of how good his song writing abilities are, and for fans of Steven Wilson, it’s another close glimpse at music that can be considered the closest to Porcupine Tree. For me personally, it’s just an all around solid record. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Blackfield. As the potential of the return to this collaboration shows, a tour cycle and another album wouldn’t hurt. At all.