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3.9 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 30, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Sylvian created an impromptu suite of songs for guitar, electronics & voice. The compositions were crafted from improvisational sessions captured live in the studio. Working almost entirely alone, he has created an emotionally raw, minimal work, of immediacy and stark beauty. Although there are elements in his previous body of work that hint at the direction taken here, "blemish" appears to cover new ground in style, content, intensity of emotion and in the seemly open ended nature of the compositions themselves. Adding to the intensity and air of experimentation is the presence of Derek Bailey. Three of the pieces included on 'blemish' were written with and feature, the legendary free-jazz guitarist. The final track of the CD features a haunting electronic arrangement by Christian Fennesz. The album was recorded February 03 & mixed in March.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Blemish
  2. The Good Son
  3. The Only Daughter
  4. The Heart Knows Better
  5. She Is Not
  6. Late Night Shopping
  7. How Little We Need To Be Happy
  8. A Fire In The Forest

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 30, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Samadhi Sound UK
  • ASIN: B00009YWAW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,227 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Blemish appears to be one of those albums so extreme it'll either be loved or loathed- bringing to mind such albums as Laughing Stock, Music for a New Society & Tilt. Sylvian abandons the lush eclectism of Dead Bees on a Cake and the electronic directions of Approaching Silence for minimal climes. Blemish contrasts hugely with the last original material released on Everything&Nothing (eg The Scent of Magnolia).
Sylvian recorded it in a month off from another project with brother Steve Jansen- it has a raw, improvised quality- & listening to it makes me think of albums like Dongs of Sevotion, I See a Darkness & Mark Hollis. Blemish is extremely intense- though its perfectly suited to a 40-minute playing time (any longer would indeed be mental torture akin to Swans!)As with many artists, Sylvian has formed his own record label- preferring the indie-artistic route to the corporate path- Blemish has been a success on Amazon UK, showing that an album can be a success in an alternate domain to the usual. Sylvian joins a number of artists who have produced albums in their home studios- Mark Eitzel, Paul Westerberg, Tom Waits, Shelley-devoto. The pro-tools/sample/revolutions of Dead Bees on a Cake and the Tweaker collaboration have moved Sylvian away from protracted studio work with an array of top session musicians.
Three of the tracks here are composed with free-jazz guitarist Derek Bailey (Guitars'Drums'N'Bass) & are a challenge to the more casual Sylvian listener- Sylvian has always worked well with avant-garde guitarists (notably Marc Ribot, Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson & Bill Frisell) Earlier minimal acoustic tracks predict this territory: Dobro#1, Boats for Burning, Cries&Whispers.
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I for one would like to express my admiration for David Sylvian; he has enough respect for his audience to avoid recycling his past work, instead offering something surprisingly stark and somewhat impenetrable (at least initially). It seems some fans feel betrayed, screaming "where are the gorgeous, multi-layered melodies?!" I don't feel that way. As others have noted, Sylvain has delved into atonal territory before--some bits of "Rain Tree Crow", "Gone To Earth", "Pop Song" and so forth. There is melody here, though it's mostly supplied by the voice. And David's pipes have rarely sounded better, gaining a warmth with age that just wasn't there in his Japan days. Obviously this isn't music for the masses, but that's not the point. I guess I was lucky to have my head blown apart by Scott Walker's "Tilt" when I was fifteen years old; after a while, it stopped sounding so unbearably alien and paved the way for my move away from the mainstream. If not for Scott, I probably wouldn't be able to enjoy an album like "Blemish" for the great, difficult beast it is, while turning my back on the drivel that seems to have risen to epidemic levels. There are still living artists creating music that's vital, and for that I'm very thankful.
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Format: Audio CD
Things have clearly changed for David Sylvian. 1999's "Dead Bees on a Cake", a slice of optimistic and generally happy music with lush arrangements and tight structures was several years in the past. Its followup, "Blemish", is about as different as can be. Melancholy and dark, in a way that nothing Sylvian had done previously, with minimalist ambient/avant-garde backgrounds-- clearly heavily improvised, with an emphasis on atmosphere and sound rather than melody. Over this, Sylvian exposes a darkness in him through his lyrics, deeply personal and very much troubling. Like I said, things have clearly changed, take this lyric, from the title track ("Blemish"):

i fall outside of her

and the trouble is

there's no telling just who's right or who's wrong

don't tell me that love is all there is

I know

don't I?

That's about the tone of it throughout, this is not a happy record. "Blemish" in particular, nearly 14 minutes of electronic noise, distorted guitars, and Sylvian's somewhat rambling vocals, takes a lot to get through. When I first heard it (and indeed this whole record), I found it virtually unlistenable and yet totally engaging. As I got to know the material better, I fell in love with it. There's a brilliant darkness to many of the pieces-- "The Only Daughter", a mournful piece ("smitten no longer / me, the only daughter") with a delicate and chirping background that really grabs your attention, the throbbing "The Heart Knows Better" and "Late Night Shopping", with its melancholy feel, beautiful vocal, and primitive beat (I think the only one on this record) almost sounds like a bunch of punks got ahold of a sampler.
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Format: Audio CD
David Sylvian has always broken new ground every so often and he does so again here. The tracks are stripped bare with the hums and buzzes of electronics, guitar reverb and his baritone voice. This is probably his most personal of albums. The voice is deliberately front and center (almost jarring at first)- the lyrics are also very self-conscious, more direct. The music is purely backdrop for his voice (don't expect a groove/beat in any traditional sense with this album).
To those who were introduced to Sylvian by his "Dead Bees on a Cake" album this will seem like a drastic diversion. In fact, he is right on course pushing boundaries, exploring new themes and respecting his audience by not just rehashing his prior work.
Expect to listen to Blemish many times before you start realizing its beauty. A must for all serious David Sylvian "fans".
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