Sam Rosenthal
Sam Rosenthal

Sam Rosenthal

About Sam Rosenthal

Composer, musician, and author Sam Rosenthal is the founder and leader of pioneering darkwave group Black Tape for a Blue Girl as well as Projekt Records, one of America's foremost labels for ethereal, gothic, and ambient music. He initially formed the label to release his own solo electronic experiments, such as the 1985 LP Tanzmusik. Black Tape formed in 1986, and their sound gradually evolved into a lush, exquisite blend of neo-classical, goth, folk, and ambient music. After the success of the band's early albums, Projekt began releasing music by similarly influential darkwave acts such as Attrition and Lycia, and their catalog branched out to encompass shoegaze, new age, world fusion, dark cabaret, and several other genres. During the late 2000s and 2010s, Rosenthal released space music and drone under the alias As Lonely as Dave Bowman and his own name, including releases such as The Passage (2011) and collaborations with artists such as Steve Roach and Mark Seelig.
Before he started releasing music, Rosenthal, living in South Florida at the time, began running a fanzine called Alternative Rhythms in 1981, preceding the widespread use of the term "alternative" to describe non-mainstream music. Rosenthal founded Projekt as a cassette label in 1983, releasing his own ambient and experimental music in addition to compilations of Florida-based electronic artists. The label's first vinyl release was 1985's Tanzmusik, a minimal synth album recorded by Rosenthal under his first moniker, Projekt Electronic Amerika.
After moving to California in 1986 (the year Alternative Rhythms ceased publication), Rosenthal formed Black Tape for a Blue Girl and issued the band's minimalist art-pop debut, The Rope. Rosenthal released a few more solo cassettes during the 1980s, but the increasingly ambitious Black Tape became his main musical concern. Following the release of acclaimed full-lengths like A Chaos of Desire (1991) and Remnants of a Deeper Purity (1996), Black Tape's first live performance took place at Projekt Festival, held in Chicago (the label's home base at the time) in 1996. By this point, the label had become a full-fledged business, regularly releasing music by a wide range of artists (including Vidna Obmana, Lovesliescrushing, and Autopsia) in addition to distributing international labels like Cold Meat Industry and Hyperium Records as part of its mail-order service, Projekt: Darkwave.
Rosenthal and Projekt relocated to New York City at the end of 1999. The following year, Rosenthal issued one of his early cassettes, 1986's Before the Buildings Fell, on CD for the first time. Black Tape shifted their sound to a dark cabaret style with 2004's Halo Star, and Rosenthal started Revue Noir with vocalist/guitarist Nicki Jaine, releasing an EP and touring throughout 2005. In 2007, Rosenthal issued Pod, the first album by his 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired ambient drone project As Lonely as Dave Bowman. He returned to releasing ambient music under his own name with 2011's The Passage, mainly consisting of a remixed piece recorded in 1998. In 2012, Tanzmusik was reissued on vinyl by Mannequin and made available digitally for the first time, now credited as a Sam Rosenthal release.
He moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2013 and subsequently began using crowdfunding websites to finance his music and label. A second album by As Lonely as Dave Bowman, Monolith, appeared in 2015. Black Tape's 2016 full-length, These Fleeting Moments, marked a return to their earlier ethereal sound. Rosenthal released two ambient/new age collaborations before the end of the decade: 2017's Journey to Aktehi (with Mark Seelig) and 2019's The Gesture of History (with Nick Shadow and Steve Roach). ~ Paul Simpson

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