Houston, Texas experimental punks Blemishes explore the facets of being drawn to opposite energies on their debut album Ambivert.

Release date: February 14, 2024 | Independent | Bandcamp

About two years or so ago, an old friend and colleague of mine turned therapist described me as an ambivert. He said I get as much energy from being social as I do from solitude, the middle ground of extrovert and introvert. It was a new term to me, but it resonated. I volley back and forth between a lover of community and kindred spirits and a misanthrope. It makes for and endless balancing act to not let either side get the better of me.

So, naturally, when I saw an album titled Ambivert by a band called Blemishes and saw that it was described as a noise punk record, I felt obligated to check it out. Ironically, my first listen didn’t thrill me the way I wanted it to. What I heard was very good, but the mood didn’t hit right for that particular morning. So, I saved it and gave it a listen a few days later. It clicked that time. It clicked so well that I immediately listened again, and again.

Blemishes are a project from Houston, Texas by Julienne Ceron covering vocals, guitar, loops, samples, synths, drum machines, bass, noise, songwriting, and production. Jessie Huntington handles drum duties. Ambivert is their debut release, and besides the Bandcamp description, there is no other social media or information regarding Blemishes existence. The Bandcamp description reads:

Working on this for almost 5 years at this point and I’ve finally reached the end of this journey…Created during a very transitional time in my life personally, going from being in the middle of high school to having a full time job at the moment, meeting some pretty incredible and influential people.’

Ambivert is an absolute journey of a record. About fifty minutes long, the seven songs sonically capture the essence of being an ambivert, drifting between ambient and noise passages into ferocious noise punk. No Age comes to mind as a comparison for the style, a feeling of serenity jostled away by a bombardment of screams and distortion, but Blemishes take it much further in either extreme.’

Album opener “Drive a Car” opens with a slow build of synths and guitar feedback that sound like the distant acceleration of a sports car leading to a motorik rhythm and driving bass line, murmurs of filtered vocals chant and chatter before exploding into a gorgeous noise punk verse, the cycle repeats before chilling back out into ambient noise textures. It is exhilarating and before you know it, peaceful, like cuddling with a lover after climax, body and mind awash in an intensity and comfort.

The track degrades into electronic blips and static beckoning “Flood Diver” to erupt into its chaotic start. This song almost feels like a grindcore track before it morphs into a punk riffed interludes between the outbursts. This is the most straightforward track on the album, a short, sweet rager. “Butterfly Neck” is also a sweet noise punk track, an uplifting guitar lead intro with ‘Let’s go!’ shouts give way to a blues riff chorus. The track builds and crescendos with guitars before devolving into a maelstrom of noise until the drums welcome back the easy-going sweetness that started it off.

“I Want To Be Water” is the major departure into ambient and sound collage territory, over ten minutes we traverse a world of noise and loops, guitar experiments, synth swells, and drum fills. It provides enough weirdness and depth to break up the aggressiveness of the previous tracks and is a fun foray into the world noise music for the uninitiated. Free of harsh noise tropes that turn away so many listeners, “I Want To Be Water” is a great introduction to the style.

“Ambivert” kicks up the momentum, again. Though an instrumental track, the hand drum samples, rollicking rhythm, and guitar work is reminiscent of a Can freak out for five minutes until gentle piano and acoustic guitar take us back to the introvert side of the spectrum. This outro serves as a transition into “Going Home,” which presents a lullaby vibe that would fit into Campfire Songs-era Animal Collective without the vocals. It is meditative and comforting with enough electronic weirdness to keep it exciting and out of stagnation.

Ambivert closes with “Torture Garden” launching us back into the fraying realms of reality through abrasive noise punk. This is the heaviest sounding track on the album oozing with noise, angst, and the punk-as-ambient atmosphere that brought us here. Blemishes have delivered something rare in their approach to make noise and chaos a part of life, something that can be violent amongst the calm and vice-versa, like the jolt of a predator taking down prey in a nature documentary.

Though little is known about these young folks, Ambivert stands as an incredible debut, pushing boundaries of disparate genres into a cohesive statement. Nothing sounds trite or accidental on Ambivert. For all of the detours and movements between its sounds, the album feels shorter than it is, no slog, just adventure-seeking joy. It is also an increasingly rare album that demands to be taken as a whole experience, forgoing the single-driven economy of streaming services and playlists in favor of a unified piece of art. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we hear from Blemishes.

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