David Sylvian
Blemish Samadhi Sound http://www.tinymixtapes.com//sites/default/files/arton5153_0.jpg

[Samadhi Sound; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5 3.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: art rock, experimental, improvisation
Others: Holger Czukay, Talk Talk, Derek Bailey


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Elegant and sophisticated are probably the two words most commonly used to describe David Sylvian’s timeless masterpiece, Secrets of the Beehive.  This was a time when everything appeared to be coming together for him in his music.  After the breakup of Japan (Sylvian’s seminal new wave band), he became even further introspective and began to approach music from a different angle.  Since that time, there have been many hits and misses throughout Sylvian’s solo catalogue, but Secrets of the Beehive undoubtedly remains his strongest material yet.  A lot has changed since the time of that recording, and Sylvian delivers one of his most experimental and challenging albums thus far with Blemish.  

Utilizing experimental guitarist Derek Bailey and glitch expert Christian Fennesz, it’s easy to see that their influence here is relentless in coaxing Sylvian to focus on a more “left-field” experience.  The album begins with the title track “Blemish,” a beautiful 13-minute song that highlights his distinct voice and emanates with the experimental style of both Fennesz and Bailey.  Probably the best track here, things tend to go up and down throughout the rest of the album.  It’s just as much of a letdown in some parts as it is breathtaking in others.  “The Good Son” and “How Little We Need To Be Happy” take the meaning of the word “improvisation” to the end of the world and hurl it over the edge.  The guitar on these two songs is more distracting than anything.  Just as that is said, things appear to come back into play with songs like “The Heart Knows Better,” “Late Night Shopping,” and “A Fire in the Forest.”  It is here that the focus is more congruent with what we’ve come to appreciate about Sylvian’s previous work.  Unfortunately, when the album is allowed to wander, I am left with the dissatisfying feeling that this could have been one of this year’s most compelling pieces of music.

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

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


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