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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best this decade.
I can see why many long-term Sylvian fans might be somewhat disgusted with this release, but coming at it from a different angle (ie- a love of electronica/improv and avant-songwriters such as Scott Walker and late period Talk Talk) its a totally different story! The thing that is most striking here is the sheer anger and fury in some of these songs, but one which is...
Published on 12 Mar 2006 by ----copshootcop----

versus
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blemish- The Sound of a Can of Worms Opening
I have to start this review by saying, that I have been an admirer of Sylvian’s music from the early days of Japan, through to the present day. The beauty of his music has always touched me in a way that no other artist has. His musicality is unique. I have enjoyed his vocal works and instrumental pieces alike, especially his collaborations with Holgar Czukay and...
Published on 14 Aug 2003 by Nice Biscuit


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best this decade., 12 Mar 2006
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
I can see why many long-term Sylvian fans might be somewhat disgusted with this release, but coming at it from a different angle (ie- a love of electronica/improv and avant-songwriters such as Scott Walker and late period Talk Talk) its a totally different story! The thing that is most striking here is the sheer anger and fury in some of these songs, but one which is hidden behind fractured instrumental backdrops and easy crooned vocals. This discrepency creates a genuine sense of emotional complexity, which given the largely bitter subject matter (divorce and long term relationship break-up) makes a lot of sense. Whilst the late Derek Bailey's contributions at first appear ugly and atonal, the way in which Sylvian reponds and actually creates (relatively) cohesive songs around them is an impresive achievement in itself. But the real treasures here are the title track and "The Only Daughter". Whilst the former seethes with electronic rage, the latter is calming glitch-ambient. Lyrically these tracks are certainly Sylvian on top form, the best lyric being "her heart's a foreign place, I visited for a while, and although I tried to please her, she came at night and stole my visa..." Five stars.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange but compelling, 28 Jun 2003
By 
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
This first release on David Sylvian’s new independent label, samadhisound, doesn't make for easy listening. Lyrically, the collection of songs is rather painfully introspective; and Sylvian's seemingly total rejection of obvious rhythm, harmony and melody in favour of choppy discord and intrusive electronic noise ensures that it can never become mere background. (Track 3, the only daughter, goes so far as to disrupt the recording with crackle and to simulate the track “jumping”).
It’s not an album to dip in and out of at all but demands an attentive listen right through. You need to have had your nerves jarred by the discord properly to appreciate the gentle hopefulness of “a fire in the forest” at the end. The overall effect is decidedly strange but compelling.
The normal band of musicians one associates with Sylvian recordings is entirely absent -- no Robert Fripp, brother Steve Jansen, Mark Isham etc. The new musical style has much to do with the extraordinary approach of avant garde jazz guitarist Derek Bailey, who features heavily. Nevertheless devoted Sylvian fans will pick up echoes from earlier recordings and will probably get the logic of where he’s at and how he got there.
A must buy, then, for the devoted follower, but not a particularly logical starting place for anybody new to David Sylvian’s work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sylvian's most oblique and innovative work in years, 6 July 2003
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Though Sylvian's back catalogue of vocal material is uniformly and uniquely beautiful, even the traditionally protracted periods between releases can't entirely dispel the notion that, over the last few releases, we've been treated to a series of studies in how to make David Sylvian records.
Blemish is Sylvian's first release on his own label, and it's hard not to see it as a statement of independence. There are reference points here to previous songs, but none come easily, and though the production still emphasises Sylvian's vocal performances, there's less reverence for the voice here; at times sampled and chopped up in a way that surprises.
Here too is the spirit of adventure that has characterised some of Sylvian's instrumental collaborations - songs improvised around jagged guitar tracks recorded a continent away from the vocal, and on "A Fire in the Forest" a unsettling re-working process more in the spirit of Momus's recent "Oskar Tennis Champion". Elsewhere Sylvian's lyrics take on an oblique sense of detachment reminiscent of Scott Walker on "Climate of Hunter" or even a less dark "Tilt".
Ironically, it's on this final track that Blemish also comes closest to Sylvian-by-numbers, with less of a distance between vocal and musical backing. Here the atmospherics cradle the singer in a way reminiscent of the best tracks on "Gone to Earth". A flower of delicate and tender beauty in a garden of thornier delights.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very dark and very difficult album., 28 Jan 2006
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Forget Blood on the Tracks, Blemish is the only album I can think of that truly captures the pain and discomfort of relationship turmoil. As a result, it's a difficult album to like, throwing the listener into a pool of fragmented self-pity and dissonant instrumentation, merging ambient, electronic backing tracks, with Derek Bailey's harsh and uncompromising improvised guitar work, to create a record that really evokes the feelings of loss and separation so rooted within the idea of marital, and, indeed, relationship strife. As Sylvian has noted in several sources since it's release, Blemish was his way of coming to terms with the slow disintegration of his marriage to former muse Ingrid Chavez, the woman who had been so instrumental to the sound and sense of warmth of his previous solo album, the soulful Dead Bees on a Cake from 1999. That sense of heart and soul is still present here... but it's been battered and bruised. Songs like The Good Son, The Heart Knows Better and She Is Not seem to want to repulse the listener almost as much as songs like Late Night Shopping, the title track and that hopeful coda, A Fire In The Forrest, seem to captivate and enthral.
It's an album of contradictions then... which is fitting, given the atmosphere in which it was conceived, with Sylvian playing off the notion of heartache, loneliness and solitude by recording much of Blemish by himself in his home studio. The album, according to Sylvian, was written, produced and performed over an unbelievably short period of time (about six weeks) and that sense of urgency is apparent in the breathless delivery and the random stream of lyrics, which really seem to suggest the occasional sting of bitterness and remorse, as opposed to characters or scenarios. The whole album seems to be striving for a greater sense of discomfort, with the guitar often sounding like nothing more than the tuneless hammering of an amateur, who has taken it upon himself to bash against every one of the strings with a wooden spoon in the mad desire to make "something" approaching music (I have tapes and tapes of this sort of stuff from when I first took up the guitar... seemingly convinced that the noise I was making was great, because it was the best I could do. In hindsight, it's no more palatable than Bailey's acoustic doodling here!!). The electronic instrumentation employs a similar principle, and yet, somehow, works against the sense of dissonance to create something much more enjoyable... if such a word can be attached to such a wilfully dark and difficult piece of work.
The references to the 1998 solo debut from former Talk Talk songwriter Mark Hollis, quoted by a few of the other commentators, are quite apt, with Blemish creating that same late night feeling, drawing on elements of ambient music and free-form jazz alongside the more subdued pop and rock influences. Also, as with Hollis's self-titled opus, it's all fairly minimal, creating a dreamy and reflective feeling for the listener. However, whereas that album seemed to drift by on an opium cloud, Blemish is a real beast to get through... easily as difficult as albums like Tilt by Scott Walker, or the Flowers of Romance by PIL. To put it simply, it DEMANDS your attention, only really making sense for me on the sixth or seventh listen. The easiest songs to like would include the closing run of songs; Late Night Shopping, which has a sound similar to Radiohead circa Hail to the Thief (right down to the dentist drill drones and the ominous hand-claps), the telling confessional, How Little We Need to be Happy, and the closing song, A Fire in the Forest, which, as noted above, brings the record full-circle, and seems to suggest the possibility of hope and a new beginning.
The lyrics are often very stripped-down, with Sylvian leaving behind the literary references and opaque descriptions found on albums like Brilliant Trees and Secrets of the Beehive in favour of something much more personal and fragmented. As a result, the words can often be as uncompromising as the music, creating some snatches of thought that isn't always clear and *can* be miss-read or misinterpreted, partly due to how disconcertingly vague much of the album is in relation to Sylvian's more celebrated 'early works' (not so much vague in the dreamlike sense, but more a random collection of images culled from everyday life, with the real becoming something much more stifling, ominous and emotionally suffocating). It goes without saying that Blemish is a brave and uncompromising piece of work... one that shows a songwriter unafraid to veer off into strange and admittedly quite alienating directions, relying heavily on musical dissonance, abstract arrangements and uncompromising themes and motifs.
Ultimately, Blemish is a difficult album to fully enjoy, becoming one of those albums you play occasionally, before slipping back into the rack in favour of something a little more "up-beat" (like the Birthday Party, or something!). It's an impossible album to love, but at the same time, is impossible to hate... with Sylvian showing a great deal of depth, flair and talent in the overall texture, arrangements and performance to go against the meandering pace, occasional bursts of self-pity and that tunelessly improvised guitar!!! An album to languish in then, particularly when you've reached rock bottom, as Sylvian seems to have done during the majority of these songs, managing to capture both the ugliness and the beauty of loss slowly giving way to a new found sense of hope.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blemish free, 29 Oct 2003
By 
Kenny Taylor (Edinburgh Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Okay, this is currently sitting with a three star average customer rating - which is nothing short of scandalous !
This, to my long suffering ears, is head and shoulders above anything else so far released this year.
Much has (rightly) been said about the superb opening track, but the final track "A Fire In The Forest" has to be one of the most heartbreaking yet uplifting songs ever written.
Whilst initially the album may seem stark and almost too personal, repeated listenings reveals a richness and at times a menacing quality which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up !
Reference points - well I can't think of too many, but if you appreciate the splendidness of any of the following - Talk Talk "Laughing Stock", Fennesz "Endless Summer", Tim Buckley "Happy Sad" or Coil "Musick To Play In The Dark Vol 1" - then dive in !
This is an album of real beauty and in years to come will surely be seen as a classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a different angle..., 22 Feb 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Unlike the majority of reviewers here, this is the first David Sylvian album I've ever heard. And I really like it!
Far from aimless, this is some of the most affecting electronic music I've ever heard (especially the beautiful title track - how can anyone say it's random noise?). The tracks with Bailey are more problematic. 'The Good Son' works, but I could definitely do without the other two - they spoil the flow of the album.
Maybe this ISN'T an album for the dedicated fans - judging by the reviews on this page, they'll probably hate it! If you're a fan of late period Talk Talk, Mego records or experimental electronica in general, check this album out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return to the form, 11 Nov 2003
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
I think this album is very good, in fact i love it from the first minute. I did not expect much because although I respect mr Sylvian very much, i kinda could not relate to his stuff from after The First day (the album with Robert Fripp of King Crimson). I have the records but find it hard to listen to hthem. Whan I got this one today I thought I will just go through it and then it will be, like, gone. But it somehow clicked. I suspect that the strength of emotions it talks about is what makes me love this record. I must say I was always into darker stuff such as Joy Division or Cure so this is something like it, plus I used to be a great fan of electronic experimentation and this album satisfies both my passions. Maybe this feeling will be gone after 20th listen or something but i no not think so: this is far too strong and beautiful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David's Best Yet., 23 July 2003
By 
P. Deans (Hay on Wye) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Following on from his best of compilation this is David's first release on his own label. It's a truly beautiful and challenging record that will reward repeated listening.Don't be put off by the avant garde leaning's it's very accessible, David is in fine voice throughout and the music is complimentary and brilliantly played.For David's fans it's a must buy and highly recommended to anyone who want's something different.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate journey....., 6 July 2003
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Proof beyond doubt that Sylvian works better when he works faster and 'looser', Blemish features just eight tracks, none of which include drums, bass, percussion or any traditional instrumentation other than Derek Baileys' fragmented jazz guitar contributions, of which many listeners will find difficult to stomach (think Dobro No1 from DBOAC). The tracks are incredibly sparse, with Sylvian sounding more intimate and exposed than ever before. This seems to be a major step for Sylvian, who now has his own label, and therefore the genuine creative freedom he has always yearned for. This freedom bears a rich fruit in the music here, whose warmth and serenity belies the subject matter of soured relationships and regret. As usual, Sylvian's lyrics are the epitome of ambiguity, although rather than looking skyward to the moon and stars as he has before, this record hits closer to home, quite literally, with frequent references to houses/families/sons & daughters. With a record as instrumentally sparse as this, the lyrics are gently pushed under the spotlight, and Sylvian surprises and delights with much of the content here, where, by his standards at least, he really puts the knife in, as on 'The Only Daughter": 'she was a friend of mine/do us a favour/your one and only warning/please be gone by morning.' Whether this is directed at a real person or another one of Sylvians lyrical metaphors for shedding skins and self-transformation is anybodys guess, only one person knows for sure.
Certainly, there is plenty of mirror-gazing here, as Sylvian seems to show an acute self-awareness of his public image with the title tracks' lyrics: 'don't tell me that love is all there is/I know, don't I?/I know.' He is still on his journey though, preaching 'all is bloated and far from truth' in the same track, then on 'The Heart Knows Better' he appears to turn his attentions to thoughts of a lustful nature... 'every night is wedding night/in my bed/but the heart knows better/and I'm absent from the place I'm meant to be'.
All in all, its a fascinating if slightly shrouded insight into a man who is now apparently free of much of what bound him in recent years, so lets hope, for our own selfish reasons, that his output will increase in the coming years!
"There is always sunshine/above the grey sky/I will try to find it/ Yes I will try"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intimate Journey...., 2 July 2003
This review is from: Blemish (Audio CD)
Proof beyond doubt that Sylvian works better when he works faster and 'looser', Blemish features just eight tracks, none of which include drums, bass, percussion or any traditional instrumentation other than Derek Baileys' fragmented jazz guitar contributions, of which many listeners will find difficult to stomach (think Dobro No1 from DBOAC). The tracks are incredibly sparse, with Sylvian sounding more intimate and exposed than ever before. This seems to be a major step for Sylvian, who now has his own label, and therefore the genuine creative freedom he has always yearned for. This freedom bears a rich fruit in the music here, whose warmth and serenity belies the subject matter of soured relationships and regret. As usual, Sylvian's lyrics are the epitome of ambiguity, although rather than looking skyward to the moon and stars as he has before, this record hits closer to home, quite literally, with frequent references to houses/families/sons & daughters. With a record as instrumentally sparse as this, the lyrics are gently pushed under the spotlight, and Sylvian surprises and delights with much of the content here, where, by his standards at least, he really puts the knife in, as on 'The Only Daughter": 'she was a friend of mine/do us a favour/your one and only warning/please be gone by morning.' Whether this is directed at a real person or another one of Sylvians lyrical metaphors for shedding skins and self-transformation is anybodys guess, only one person knows for sure.
Certainly, there is plenty of mirror-gazing here, as Sylvian seems to show an acute self-awareness of his public image with the title tracks' lyrics: 'don't tell me that love is all there is/I know, don't I?/I know.' He is still on his journey though, preaching 'all is bloated and far from truth' in the same track, then on 'The Heart Knows Better' he appears to turn his attentions to thoughts of a lustfull nature... 'every night is wedding night/in my bed/but the heart knows better/and I'm absent from the place I'm meant to be'.
All in all, its a fascinating if slightly shrouded insight into a man who is now apparently free of much of what bound him in recent years, so lets hope, for our own selfish resons, that his output will increase in the coming years!
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