Black Tape for a Blue Girl
About Black Tape for a Blue Girl
Black Tape for a Blue Girl's ethereal, mournful sound virtually defined the darkwave aesthetic of their label, Projekt Records, a company owned and operated by the group's founder, composer, and keyboardist Sam Rosenthal. Since the mid-'80s, the band have released a dozen ambitious, intricately arranged studio full-lengths blending neo-classical, goth, folk, and ambient elements. Debuting with the minimalist art-pop album The Rope in 1986, the band's subsequent albums gradually became lusher and more ambitious; releases such as 1991's A Chaos of Desire and 1996's Remnants of a Deeper Purity have endured as fan favorites. Following several lineup changes and relocations, Black Tape shifted their sound to a dark cabaret style, similar to the Dresden Dolls and Katzenjammer Kabarett, with 2004's Halo Star. The group returned to their earlier ethereal sound with late-2010s releases such as 2016's These Fleeting Moments.
Formed in 1983, Projekt was originally envisioned as an outlet for Rosenthal's solo electronic music; upon relocating to California three years later, his music adopted a warmer, deeply personal sound heralded by the formation of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, which debuted in 1986 with The Rope. Where subsequent efforts including 1987's Mesmerized by the Sirens and its 1989 follow-up, Ashes in the Brittle Air, drew heavily on ambient soundscapes, the group -- a revolving ensemble of performers who, in addition to Rosenthal, also included stints by vocalists Oscar Herrera and Lucian Casselman, violinist Vicki Richards, clarinetist Richard Watson, and cellist Mera Roberts -- expanded into increasingly dense electronic textures over the course of records like 1991's A Chaos of Desire and 1993's This Lush Garden Within.
After a three-year hiatus, during which Rosenthal moved from Los Angeles to Chicago, Black Tape for a Blue Girl resurfaced in 1996 with the EP The First Pain to Linger, a disc packaged with a novel authored by Rosenthal. The full-length epic Remnants of a Deeper Purity appeared that same year. Sporting richer string arrangements than previous Black Tape recordings, the album eventually became their most popular release, and was reissued several times over the subsequent decades. The band played its first-ever concert after the album's release. As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire followed in 1999. Julianna Towns sang on several songs, but she was let go from the band before the album was released, and Elysabeth Grant (who initially joined the band as a violist) became Black Tape's singer. Rosenthal and his wife at the time, flutist Lisa Feuer, moved to New York City at the end of the year and began working on the next Black Tape album, Scavenger Bride, which included vocals by Grant, Bret Helm, and Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch, Tubalcain, Executive Slacks). The album was released by Projekt in 2002.
Black Tape shifted from their usual ethereal sound to a darker cabaret style with their next album, 2004's Halo Star. They toured the United States after its release, with Grant and Helm joined by additional vocalist/guitarist Nicki Jaine. Rosenthal and Jaine started a duo called Revue Noir, which issued an EP and toured throughout 2005. Black Tape were quiet for several years, only performing a handful of shows in 2007. They returned in 2009 with 10 Neurotics, featuring Maroulis and Laurie Reade as the lead singers, with additional vocals by Jaine and Grant. The album's artwork and subject matter were significantly more erotic than their previous material.
In 2010, guitarist/vocalist Valerie Gentile of the Crüxshadows replaced Jaine, who retired from music. She was replaced by Pinky Weltzman a year later. Following a few concerts in 2011, the group went on hiatus while Rosenthal wrote an erotic novel and kept busy running Projekt. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 2013, and a Black Tape remix album (Tenderotics) was released that year. He also started a successful crowd-funding campaign to issue Remnants of a Deeper Purity on vinyl for the first time. He digitally issued several archival releases and preview EPs while working on the next Black Tape album. Titled These Fleeting Moments, it was released in August of 2016 by Metropolis, with a deluxe crowd-funded edition appearing on Projekt. The album marked the return of earlier vocalist Herrera, as well as the group's ethereal sound from that era. Twelfth album To Touch the Milky Way followed on Projekt in 2018. ~ Jason Ankeny & Paul Simpson