Steven Wilson talks about walking away from Aviv Geffen and Blackfield

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Steven Wilson has gone into greater detail about why he is leaving Blackfield, his art rock collaboration with Israeli artist Aviv Geffen.

Of course, the last few projects have been less collaborative, with Geffen taking on a more central role in the process. Wilson, who has continued work with Porcupine Tree and No-Man all while maintaining a solo career, says he’s simply too busy to give Blackfield the attention and creativity it requires: “Blackfield felt like something I wanted to step out of for a couple of reasons: No. 1, Aviv Geffen is incredibly ambitious for the project and he has every right to be,” Wilson says. “But in order to do what he wants to do with Blackfield, it requires full-time commitment.”

When Geffen last contacted Wilson about working on the next Blackfield album, for instance, he was prepping for a solo tour and have subsequent plans to record again with the prog rockers in Porcupine Tree. It might have been two to three years before Wilson could carve out time for another Blackfield project.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Steven Wilson dropped by to talk about classic 1970s sounds, prog’s rebirth and his amazing album ‘The Raven.’]

“He said: ‘Well no, that’s not fair,’ and he’s quite right,” Wilson told Anil Prasad at Innerviews. “I said: ‘The best thing to do is I’ll help you make the record, but you need to put something in place so Blackfield can continue as a full-time concern without me holding you back.’ I had to talk him into it. I believe it’s in his best interest. I certainly didn’t want to be in a position in which I felt guilty for holding him up. So, this was a conscious decision to step out of something in order to give Blackfield more of a chance of longevity and success.”

A fourth Blackfield album is due in May 2012, and Wilson said his involvement will be minimal. He’s added guitar parts, but only sings on one track. Wilson framed his involvement as more along the lines of a consultant.

“Some great things are happening with the album,” Wilson confirms. “I think what people like about Blackfield, whether they realize it or not, is the sound of Aviv’s songs and his approach. They’ll realize that more when they hear the new record. It sounds very much like a quintessential Blackfield album. I have very little involvement with it.”

Meanwhile, No-Man — Wilson’s collaboration with Tim Bowness — has just released a live set titled Love and Endings. Wilson also issued his second solo album Grace for Drowning last September; it was subsequently nominated for a Grammy for best surround sound album. Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison has said he expects the group to reconvene some time in 2012, with a new album to follow in 2013.

“I still feel quite protective about the legacy of Blackfield, so in that respect I’m still there,” Wilson says. “But I think it’s important for people to get used to the idea of Blackfield existing without my 100 percent participation. That’s the way it’s got to be without getting another Blackfield album for many years. I don’t think that’s fair to Aviv or fans of Blackfield.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Blackfield and Porcupine Tree. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

BLACKFIELD – LIVE IN NYC (2007): It wasn’t enough that we got not only the amazing Blackfield II album, and one great album and an equally great EP from Steven Wilson’s main band, Porcupine Tree (Fear of a Blank Planet and Nil Recurring, respectively) in 2007, we then got this live DVD to sate the desires of fans clamoring for more — because we always are. Wilson and bandmate Aviv Geffen, along with longtime band director/artist Lasse Hoile, filmed this show in New York (you know, hence the name) and it lives up to last year’s Porcupine Tree DVD, Arriving Somewhere, in all respects.

PORCUPINE TREE – FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET (2007): It might be easy to go on and on about the themes of isolation that waft through Blank Planet‘s lyrics, but for me, it’s all about one thing: the music. Honestly, sometimes the lyrics are a little pedestrian and it’s not like this isn’t a topic that hasn’t been covered a million times before. They’re simply excuses for Steven Wilson to lay down some of those gorgeous harmony choruses. But back to the music: Wilson cranks things up a bit here, and, as I said above, he seemingly has split off the pop-side of the band to Blackfield, so Porcupine Tree can focus on the darker, heavier, grittier, and weirder stuff.

BLACKFIELD – BLACKFIELD II (2007): A lot of hay has been made of Porcupine Tree’s 2007 release Fear Of A Blank Planet, and yes, I’ve joined in the fray. It’s a solid effort from a band that hadn’t stumbled much to begin with. But PT’s leader Steven Wilson is just too talented to stand pat with Fear being his only contribution for this year. For the second time in about as many years, he’s gotten together with Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen to collaborate on a more mellow, mainstream sounding album than Wilson’s prog rock alter ego. The incredible thing is that “more mainstream” didn’t mean any real drop off in artistic quality.

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    MORE FROM AROUND THE WATERCOOLER AT SOMETHING ELSE! TOWERS …

    TOM JOHNSON: Not surprised at all. I kind of feel like maybe he’s just lost interest and wants to save the more melodic ideas for his own solo stuff, but it’s more polite to just say it’s due to conflicting schedules.

    GLEN BOYD: The third one seemed more like an Aviv project, and the live show was the same way. Wilson played some of his stuff, but otherwise seemed to be acting more like Geffen’s side man.

    S. VICTOR AARON: If Geffen was more involved on the last album, maybe that’s why it was so much more emo than the prior one.

    TOM JOHNSON: It just seems like since Wilson’s started his own solo stuff, his outside stuff has tapered off. Why wouldn’t he want to reserve his best ideas for his own work?

    GLEN BOYD: I also thought the third one had a little too much gloss to it.

    TOM JOHNSON: He may claim most of what people like in Blackfield is Aviv, but there’s way too much mixed DNA in those first two albums and too little evidence of it in the third one.

    GLEN BOYD: I am glad to see Wilson’s planning on reconvening with PT though. He’s been so busy with all this other stuff, I was starting to worry he’d forgot about them.

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