Album: Welcome to My DNA
Genre: Progressive Rock
When Blackfield, the collaboration between Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson and Israeli songwriter Aviv Geffin first hit the market in 2004, many people saw it as a step back for Wilson. Idolized by many as a guitarist, vocalist, song-writer, producer, engineer and mixer Wilson now has dozens of extremely complex and intricate compositions under his belt from a multitude of projects. With Blackfield however there was a distinct focus on simplicity. The insane patterns of Gavin Harrison were nowhere to be found, and it wouldn’t take a music major to dissect the various layers in the song found on Blackfield I and II. Welcome to My DNA is, simply put, simplicity redefined.
While generally simple, the songs from the first two Blackfield albums did not lack in the department of rock and bombastics. Tracks like “Cloudy Now” and “Christenings” packed a decent punch, and perhaps that made the albums easier to swallow for fans not used to songs so close to the pop label. You’ll struggle to find much on Welcome to My DNA with that kind of up front intensity. Though there are definite moments of groove there is certainly nothing that approaches the term heavy, and instead the album holds a great deal of focus on atmosphere. Songs like “Glass House” and “Rising of the Tide” at the beginning of the album do a good job of showcasing what the album will be and how well Aviv and Wilson can nail a new sound right out of the gait. Unfortunately those two songs are separated by a distinct counterpoint, the song “Go to Hell”. Though the song has a few strong melodies the song screams art for art’s sake and is a prime example of just trying too hard. I’d say that “Here Comes the Blood” also suffers from this, but frankly I just find it to be a better song musically, and it is also the one song on the album that approaches rock, making it a nice contrasting piece in the middle of the album.
Even the acoustic guitars on “Waving” and “Far Away” are played with a casual and laid back feel that simply flows with the rest of the music. I can understand how a wide range of people might dislike this Blackfield album as many people like part’s and instruments to stand out, and while I enjoy that at times it’s very nice to have an album where the instruments come together with one another to simply perfect the songs. Perhaps this is best demonstrated in the album’s final and title track, “DNA”. Two very simple acoustic guitar parts and haunting vocals kick off the track and intriguing lyrics carry the song forward as drums and orchestration enters the picture. By the end this final song ends up being the album’s most beautiful piece, and my personal favorite.
Wilson and Aviv both give rather fitting vocal performances for the album, and though I prefer Wilson’s voice by a good margin it’s nice to hear the diversity between the two in the course of the album. That said the vocals are easily overshadowed by the two shining stars of this album, the keyboards and orchestral arrangements. Anyone who needs proof of this need to look no further than tracks like “Dissolving With the Night” and “Oxygen” on which the atmospheres are created with such efficiency one can only compliment Wilson and Geffin on their abilities to strip music back to such an emotional and beautiful core.
Nick's Rating: 9.5/10