Vermilion Sands

posted: 2024-02-29 Blackfield Blackfield

released: 2004-02
on label: Kscope
artist: Blackfield
genres: Pop RockPost-BritpopArt Rock
with some: Progressive Rock
more reviews: Pop Matters Prog Archives

Producer, bandleader (No-Man, Porcupine Tree) and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson joined forces with Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Gefen in 2000, when Gefen invited Wilson to play with him for a series of concerts in Israel. Their first album as a duo, recording under the name Blackfield, does betray their mutual love of 1960s and 1970s classic rock, but it also contains more than a hint of an ’80s influence – at times the band sounds like a cross between Tears for Fears and a more organic-sounding Pet Shop Boys.

Lyrically, they throw down the gauntlet early – the first line of the first song goes “Here’s a song from an open mind.” Everything else is no big surprise: scars are mentioned more than once, as are nightmares, pain, death and sorrow. But Blackfield’s sound is anything but morose. The music isn’t exactly chipper, but it’s always rich and pretty, and at times (as on the album-ending “Hello”) it’s downright grandiose. There are also quite a few sonic surprises thrown into the mix, such as the almost subliminal found-sound experimentation on “Lullaby” and the sudden incursion of Middle Eastern reeds and a drum’n’bass breakbeat in the middle of the otherwise sweet and dreamy “Scars.” The bonus disc with video content makes the deal that much sweeter. Recommended.