March 3, 2004
Sylvian’s blunt ambition shines through right form the outset. Not many would opt for an opening track that spans almost 14 mins; full of abstract reverb and fret noodlings. His voice is as penetrative as ever, almost burying the surrounding music in places. Blemish isn’t focused on anything in particular, nor is it rambling or pointless – just always aiming at something unseen with soulful determination. Experimental string-plucker Derek Bailey’s trademark fingering is clearly heard through three tracks, with his acoustics adding a layer of the ethereal to the second track, The Good Son. One of the warmest moments is The Only Daughter, beginning with subtle crackling in each speaker, like dusty vinyl bathed in evening sunlight, being played for the first time in years.. “She was….She was…A friend of mine. I came to hate her,” the man croons as his voice is chopped and echoed into repetition amidst the crackling and soft drones. The closest he comes to a radio-type-single is in the form of Late Night Shopping – with buzzing electronic signals and tired handclaps, although it is still quite far from easy-listening. The most gracious offering is saved until last, with warm arrangements by Austrian laptop/guitar processing lad Christian Fennesz. His instantly-recognisable and dreamy backing scapes of sound fit David’s tone perfectly. Some have blamed Sylvian for being too prolific in the last few years, and in truth this is something like his 14th full-length, or thereabouts. When you have such a poised instrumentality though, why not just make as many records as you like?
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