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Welcome to my DNA

March 28, 2011

 There are probably a dozen bands that have crossed over the line and I feel are ‘uncriticisable’. The list is, however, in dynamic equilibrium with bands crossing back and forth every so often. The biggest advantage of having so many bands in this group is that at least twice a year, an album is released by one of them (or their subsidiaries) and from the moment it arrives until at least a fortnight later, my every waking moment is consumed. 

Blackfield, the melancholic rock band collaboration between Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree and Israeli singer Aviv Geffen, released their third album earlier this week. There is always a dichotomy when I listen to an album like this. I know the band’s back catalogue so intimately, that it seems blasphemous that there now exist so many songs with which I do not even have a passing acquaintance. I must listen to the new album as many times as possible in a short span of time. On the other hand, it may be many years before I can experience new music from them. I should ration out the new songs.

A happy compromise usually occurs naturally. It is very difficult to find an uninterrupted hour to go through an album completely. What inevitably happens is that I listen to the first half of the album and then skip to the last song. I then become familiar with those songs over the first few days on car and bus journeys. The album seems more controllable when approached that way. Then, slowly, I add one new song at the end of the daily listening session. 

This cycle is compressed in the case of a Blackfield album. The new album, Welcome to My DNA clocks in at just under forty minutes, and almost all songs are around three minutes long. Which is why I reached song number seven, Blood, a whole two days ahead of schedule. From the opening bar, I experienced that rare buzz- the knowledge that this would be the first of hundreds of times I listen to the song. My finger was poised on the repeat button on my iPod less than halfway through a song that is so good that I cannot wait for it to finish before I listen to it again. If only there was some way to double the pleasure by listening to it twice simultaneously.

I will never know how bad a critic my lack of objectivity makes me. Does it make me fall in love with a substandard album or does it raise my expectations so high that I am inevitably disappointed? Or do the two effects cancel each other out? I choose not to dwell on these pointless questions. There is a new Blackfield album waiting for me.

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