Surface electromyogram (SEMG) has numerous applications, but the presence of artifacts and cross talk especially at low level of muscle activity makes the recordings unreliable. Spectral and temporal overlap can make the removal of artifacts and noise, or separation of relevant signals from other bioelectric signals extremely difficult. Identification of hand gestures using low level of SEMG is one application that has a number of applications but the presence of high level of cross talk makes such an application highly unreliable. Individual muscles may be considered as independent at the local level and this makes an argument for separating the signals using independent component analysis (ICA). In the recent past, due to the easy availability of ICA tools, a number of researchers have attempted to use ICA for this application. This paper reports research conducted to evaluate the use of ICA for the separation of muscle activity and removal of the artifacts from SEMG. It discusses some of the conditions that could affect the reliability of the separation and evaluates issues related to the properties of the signals and a number of sources. This paper also identifies the lack of suitable measure of quality of separation for bioelectric signals and it recommends and tests a more robust measure of separation. This paper also proposes semi-blind ICA approach with the combination of prior knowledge of SEMG sources with ICA to identify hand gestures using low level of SEMG recordings. The theoretical analysis and experimental results demonstrate that ICA is suitable for SEMG signals. The results demonstrate the limitations of such applications due to the inability of the system to identify the correct order and magnitude of the signals. This paper determines the suitability of the use of error between estimated and actual mixing matrix as a mean for identifying the quality of separation of the output. This work also demonstrates that semi-blind ICA can accurately identify complex hand gestures from the low-level SEMG recordings.