Blackfield is a collaboratory music project by the English musician Steven Wilson, and Israeli rock singer Aviv Geffen. Together, they have released three albums under the moniker: Blackfield and Blackfield II as equal partners, and Welcome to My DNA with Geffen taking a more dominant role. With the release of Blackfield IV in 2013, Wilson is taking an even more passive role, acting only as a contributor and mixer.
Current band members are drummer Tomer Z, bassist Seffy Efrati, and keyboardist Eran Mitelman. Former band members include Chris Maitland (replaced by Tomer Z, 2004) and Daniel Salomon (replaced by Eran Mitelman, 2007).
Formed after a meeting in 2000, the partnership blossomed into a cross-cultural collaboration called Blackfield.
Aviv had discovered Porcupine Tree in the mid ‘90s and followed their career development. In 2000 he invited the band to perform some concerts in Israel and met with Steven in London to discuss working together. Before long they had collaborated on the first Blackfield song. In 2001 the two met in a studio in Tel Aviv with the intention of recording a one-off EP.
The results of the session were so impressive however, that the EP was cancelled and the decision was made to continue writing and recording a full length album. Over the next 18 months the pair fitted in Blackfield writing and recording sessions whenever they could between their other commitments and finally in October 2003 the debut album was complete.
The collaborative songs alongside songs written by each separately brought a unique meeting of cultures, which resulted in the self titled album, which was hailed at the time as ‘hypnotically effective’ (Classic Rock) and ‘another strike of genius from Steven Wilson’ (Eclipsed).
Blackfield II arrived in February 2007. The pair’s return was greeted by an equally enthusiastic media response with Clash describing it as ‘a lush but soulful mix of separate cultures, deep sounds and touching lyrics,’ and CMU proclaiming it as ‘simply another complete triumph from the duo.’
In January 2009, to promote his first English-language European release, Geffen went on a small tour of Europe with the Blackfield live band, including Wilson being billed as a special guest. Half of the set consisted of songs from the then yet to be released first English language solo album by Geffen while the rest was a selection of Blackfield songs. Wilson would also appear on three tracks from the album.
In April 2010, Geffen and Wilson got into studio to begin writing the follow-up to Blackfield II. However, this time, all songs, with the exception of the track “Waving”, were written by Geffen, as Wilson had been concentrating on his second solo album, Grace for Drowning, at the same time. Wilson only performed lead vocals on five of the eleven tracks, but provide backing or co-vocals on several other tracks. Their third album, Welcome to My DNA, was released on the 28th of March 2011 and supported by a European and North American tour following a kickoff concert in Israel. However, several concert dates were cancelled due to the death of Wilson’s father in May 2011.
After touring for Welcome to my DNA was completed, Wilson confirmed that with Blackfield, like the majority of his other projects, he himself had no particular plans for the future, but the project wasn’t necessarily over either. However, in January 2012, Geffen has announced his intentions to release a fourth Blackfield album by May 2012. This prompted Wilson to announce that his role would continue to lessen, with Wilson acting only as a contributor and mixer. Wilson said of the band’s future:
“[…] just to clarify news elsewhere of a new Blackfield album coming this year – please note that this time my involvement will be as a contributor rather than a member. I will still be mixing the album, and maybe sing on a couple of Aviv’s songs (there will be other guest singers I understand), but with my complete blessing Blackfield is now under his sole curatorship, a process which really began with Welcome to My DNA.”
Wilson later admitted that it was his own idea for Geffen to take over the project, because Wilson wanted to concentrate on his solo career and Porcupine Tree in 2012 and 2013, while Geffen wanted to do another Blackfield album right away in 2012, and Wilson felt guilty about holding him back.
On January 29 and January 30, both Geffen and Wilson were in the studio working on vocals and guitar for the fourth album. Wilson stated that he will contribute lead vocals to only one song, but is also contributing “a bunch of guitar parts” and “arranging backing vocals”. Despite his lessened role, he still said that he was “protective of the Blackfield legacy”, and that the next album would “still sound like a quintessential Blackfield album.” One of the guest vocalists that Wilson had alluded to before, was revealed to be Vincent Cavanagh of the band Anathema, who recorded vocals for a track.
On June 14, 2012, Geffen announced he was in the final mixing stages of the album with Wilson.
In a September 2012 interview with Discord Magazine, Wilson reiterated his stance with Blackfield, stating:
“I won’t say producing [the fourth album], I am only helping [Geffen], a bit of singing, guitar, mixing whatever it takes but I am not going to tour, it’ll be too much, I’ll kill myself, would just run myself to the ground. I won’t tour Blackfield anymore but I will do anything to keep the name going…I just don’t think that writing the kind of style that Blackfield make is where I am at right now.”
At the end of November 2012, Geffen stated that he roughly aims for an April 2013 release time frame. Wilson confirmed that he sang and played guitar on several tracks, but “much less than before”, that Geffen was able to get “a bunch of great singers to contribute to the record, some of whom are quite well known”, and that the album would be the first that Geffen would consent to be mixed for surround sound.
On February 25, 2013, Wilson released his third solo album, The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories), of which some copies contained a compilation sampler disc of music done by artists under record label Kscope; one track was a new track, “Pills”, taken from the fourth Blackfield album.
On June 9, 2013, it was announced that the fourth album would officially be titled Blackfield IV, and its release date would be August 26, 2013.