David Sylvian
Blemish CD

Former Japan-singer David Sylvian has taken a considerable amount of time to complete his new studio album - nearly four years have passed since the predecessor "Bees On A Dead Cake" came out.

"Blemish", with its highly suggestive album title (considering the deliberate move away from perfectionism), has been released on David's own record label Samadhi Sound (another hint, this time towards Buddhism, with Samadhi being the highest state of contemplation man can achieve). Now, how does this go together? Well, here's an idea: "Blemish" could be an allegory for the transition from the material ideal to the mental ideal.

Let's have a closer look at the musical part of the story: music-wise, the new album leads us back to David's final days with Japan, a band that had successfully dwelled on the fringes of the New Romantic movement of the 1980ies and broke up in 1982. While listening to "Blemish", I was often reminded of the Japan song "Ghosts", with its free-floating, electronic sound clusters, upon which David's romantic, almost poetical, vocal performance arose. To my mind, it is the very same elements that form the basis for the opening tune on "Blemish". David has created wonderfully minimal and improvised sound scapes, using guitars and electronical equipment. His almost ghostly voice favours the emotional quality of the songs and gives them an enormous amount of depth and intensity.

Surprise, surprise: three tracks on "Blemish" feature guitar player extraordinaire Mister Derek Bailey, certainly one of the icons of improvisational Jazz and gifted with a truly characteristic playing style that brings in a lot of tension. And it fits in perfectly well! Another collaborator on "Blemish" is Christian Fennesz, mastermind for electronic sound production and responsible for the very fine arrangement of the album's closing track "A Fire In The Forest". Looking for a starting point? Try "Late Night Shopping", with its mystical, almost invocational, vocal performance.

"Blemish" will certainly prove to be a little too challenging for many David Sylvian fans, although it's well known that David is always looking forward and pushing his own limits. I have to say that I liked the new album without reservations for what it is: the new and tougher face of David Sylvian as his career as an artist enters the 21st century. The new album won't be on display in record shops, but is exclusively available via David Sylvian's website (see address below).

Label: Samadhi Sound (David Sylvian's record label)

(rb 08/MMIII, t&a: rh)

>> David Sylvian Website/Mailorder

"Blemish" presents the new and tougher face of David Sylvian