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David Sylvian - Blemish CD (album) cover


David Sylvian

Crossover Prog

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4 stars This release is important more for what it attempts and foresees than for what it actually delivers. Many of the tracks become irritating after the first minute or two, but there are a handful of tracks that work quite well. Sylvian is going for a completely different sound (except for the vocal style, which has been consistent throughout his career), and for that he deserves credit. I would love to see more composers try to create new, original styles of music, instead of building (safely) upon what has been done before. This release is a step in that direction. Yes, it's certainly too "Ivory Tower" and "pretentious" for most ears, but that same description has been used every time somebody attempts to stretch the boundaries of popular music. I'm looking forward to his next album.
Report this review (#33202)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first impression was a surprized, this is the first work of Sylvian I listen and is incredible, the vocals are smooth and clean and the soundscapes works fine. The untuned guitar on "The Good son" is amazing the way it fix all togheter I want to hear his early works for a best critic. At the time I think de ex-Japan lead singer make a revolution of modern music. Cheers!
Report this review (#57546)
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a researcher myself, i cannot deny the magic of this record, 9 songs (TRAUMA is a bonus track if you had the chance buying the japanese import or... the digital download, whatever!) of pure ambient, but not just "only" ambient a perfect balance in between vocals, poetry, sounds and textures. All songs are soundscapes of distorted guitars or mellow strings with lots of layers of sounds, with vocals as focal point over the main "background" sound, also, the lenght of the sogs make stare and listen, not just another album but a conscise work of colors released little by ilttle avoiding the mass intercourse. A minimalistic effort that touches the sublime...again i cannot recommend one song in particular, beacuse each one has a strenght by itself... yes a quiet record, a long one, not easy as first listening, but a jewel waiting to be discovered. peace
Report this review (#98847)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars The modest, collector's-only rating for this 2003 album marks it as an acquired taste, even for fans (like me) of Sylvian's esoteric brand of ambient pop. The singer/songwriter has never been a stranger to minimalism, but unlike the atmospheric instrumental soundscapes of earlier albums he adapts a more radical, home-grown approach to the eight improvised songs here, each one perfectly illustrated by the pastel simplicity of the Zen-like cover art.

And despite the contributions of two guest guitarists it's truly a solo endeavor: produced, composed, performed, engineered, and mixed by Sylvian himself, from the sound of it very late at night, and without wanting to wake the neighbors. There's no percussion anywhere within earshot, although an occasional semblance of rhythm can be heard in the quietly reverberating guitars, and in the background radiation of electronic pops and pulses.

At times (for example during the long, unwinding title track) the music explores the same stark but haunting sonic terrain previously mapped by BRIAN ENO at his most abstract and meditative. But elsewhere ("The Good Son"; "How Little We Need to Be Happy") the music can be almost laughably inscrutable: the post-millennium equivalent of a beatnik poetry reading, with atonal, un-tuned plucked guitars and a freeform sense (to say the least) of melody and timing.

It's hard not to scratch your head in bewildered admiration of an album so far removed from traditional song forms. At one point (in "The Only Daughter") the fractured, overlapping vocal tapes even had me checking my stereo for a malfunction. And the lyrics of "Late Night Shopping" are weird enough (in an early RESIDENTS sort of way) to qualify as comic relief.

In the end the album presents a beautifully realized musical statement, but one demanding more than a little patience to fully appreciate. I'll admit at first it sailed completely over my earthbound head. But with repeated exposure and a receptive pair of ears the most challenging music can sometimes leave the deepest impression.

Report this review (#163180)
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Blemish is the 10th ( with and without various collaborators) full-length studio album by UK progressive/ experimental pop/ rock artist David Sylvian.

The music on the album is experiemental and ambient pop/ rock with David Sylvian´s emotional and warm vocal delivery as the focal point. The songs are very ambient in nature and features electronic sounds and a great deal of atonal and experimental guitar playing. While the experiment in itself is interesting I can´t say that I´m too thrilled about the outcome. David Sylvian´s vocal lines are seldom supported by anything harmonic, which generally make the songs very monotone sounding. Blemish is a very introvert album and while that concept can work wonders sometimes, I think Blemish fails in engaging the listener for very long. The vocals and the rest of the music seem like they were recorded independently and then brougth together.

The production is warm and professional.

Blemish is quite a disappointment for me. I have a hard time enjoying the album and while I greatly respect David Sylvian´s experimental approach to writing pop/ rock, this is too "different" for my taste. I enjoy his music more when it´s more harmonic and melodic. I can´t give more than a 2 star rating.

Report this review (#298839)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is possibly the dreariest and least listenable of all Sylvian's releases. I don't care what any music snob says, I much prefer the last three 'Japan' albums to any solo release by David Sylvian.

I''m still a big fan of his first four solo albums, but from 'Dead Bees on a Cake' onwards he sounds like a spoiled child, crying and whining at the theft of a bag of jelly-babies that a bigger boy stole from him after stamping on his feet in a school playground.

The bloke may just have had a marriage split and is attempting to exorcise a few demons, but that's not something I want to listen to as entertainment.

There's a lot of strange glitchy and digital electronic effects on 'Blemish' and that's not necessarily a good thing. They're random and tuneless. I don't know what on earth has happened to David Sylvian during the last ten years or so. A once brilliant singer songwriter has plumbed the depths of misery and despair that no reasonable listener can tolerate or have any time for. Certainly not me, that's for sure.

'Blemish' sounds half-hearted and disinterested within itself displaying no discernible direction or raison d'etre. Derek Bailey's fractured stabs of atonal guitar do nothing to increase my interest. I've never heard an album where the lead singer sounds so dissociated and separate from proceedings.

An added star just for the fact that there's a lot happening on a subsonic level if listened to whilst wearing a good set of headphones. At the end of the day, it's instantly forgettable, poorly structured and is a mile removed from his monumental scores for 'Brilliant Trees' and 'Gone to Earth'.

You'll be hard pushed to hear such continual moaning and grumping anywhere in the Prog Archives. And you thought Leonard Cohen was a miserable git? What a dirge.

Report this review (#1408149)
Posted Monday, May 4, 2015 | Review Permalink

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