Anthology Archive (Nicki Jaine & Sam Rosenthal) ~ SALE $5
Black tape for a blue girl
10 Neurotics ~ SALE $5
Sam Rosenthal is joined by an all new band: Brian Viglione (The Dresden Dolls) plus vocalists Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch), Laurie Reade (Attrition) and Nicki Jaine.
"I set out to create an album that looks at our sexuality, obsessions and fetishes with a mature (rather than sensationalized) eye. Our life is a constant churning of desires, sometimes overtaking us - more often subverted, submerged & repressed. Wherein other albums I have written hint at sexuality, this time I wanted to directly confront reality: Who are we when the disguise is stripped away?" - Sam
1 "Tell Me You've Taken Another" is a song I first recorded on our 1999 album, As one aflame laid bare by desire. My idea was to take this brooding dirge, and update it as an "accessible" song that fits the 10 Neurotics mood. Brian set his mind to this task, and we ended up with something akin to The Cure's "Fascination Street." Athan shines on this one; the lyrical theme is a guy who likes being cuckolded.
2 "Inch Worm" is stylistically the sequel to 2004's "Knock Three Times." A bouncy dark-cabaretish song with Laurie's teasing vocals. The lyrics are partially based on a pro-Ana blog a friend wrote on her mySpace page.
3 "Sailor Boy" heads off into Nick Cave / Swans territory. Athan portrays our hero whose Russian syntax hides his mistaken belief in who is the master and who is the slave. I really get a kick out of the fact that I played most of the guitars on this one and Brian played the piano; the exact opposite of past CDs when I was just the keyboard guy.
4 "Caught by a Stranger" updates the sonic style of 2002's "All My Lovers," bringing in an open and earthy quality. Michael Laird (Unto Ashes) provides the percussion. Laurie plays the part of a woman trying to convince her lover of the joys of exhibitionism.
5 And finally, in true neurotic style, our Quadra (4-song maxi) includes a 5th track (this detail got Shea twitchy). It's the censored version of "Sailor Boy." The word "shit" has been dipped out to protect the moral standards of Americans everywhere, since you KNOW nobody who listens to college radio has ever in their life really heard anyone use the word "shit." Aghast!
Five Stars | As evidenced by the odd lyrical reference and the lush packaging that accompanies their albums, there has always been a sensual element to the work of Black Tape for a Blue Girl. However, this erotic undercurrent has sometimes been obfuscated by the swirling depths of the group’s epically ethereal aesthetic. If Quadranotics, a sampler of songs from the upcoming album 10 Neurotics, is a good indication, the next Black Tape record will substantially amp-up the sexual content and pair it with a new and exciting musical direction. At first blush, this seems like a risky prospect; not for nothing, Black Tape is one of the few darkwave acts who have a sound that is both immediately recognizable and distinct from the more imitative practitioners within the gloom-and-doom underground. 10 Neurotics, then, will be something of a gamble, but the songs on Qaudranotics indicate that such a bold artistic move that could potentially alienate the average Black Tape fan is actually poised to revitalize the project.
The first track on the sampler, a reworked version of As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire’s “Tell Me You’ve Taken Another,” illustrates just how far Sam Rosenthal and company are willing to expand the group’s sonic palette. Where the lyrical narration of a man with a fetish for being cuckolded was formerly delivered amidst waves of synthesizer, it now floats along a breezy arrangement of guitars, flute, and Brian Viglione’s archly musical drumming. More startling is the increased range that the album promises; “Inch Worm” is a piano-based cabaret number, while “Sailor Boy” is a sea-shanty-with-a-twist. And yet, despite the changes, fans of ethereal whisperings shouldn’t turn up their noses at what is to come; “Caught by a Stranger” blends ethnic touches with electronics in a way that will likely please devotees of Wench, Dead Can Dance,Unto Ashes, et al.
I can honestly say, with no trace of hyperbole, that after hearing Quadranotics, 10 Neurotics has shot to the top of my list of albums I am most anxious for in 2009. As a bonus, Sam R. has been blogging about the process of writing and recording the album here. Check it out and become enthralled!
Well! This is a promo EP of sorts to promote the album 10 Neurotics due later this year, in which Sam Rosenthal descends into a world of seedy hedonism at will, with topics so diverse and lubricious that the previous singers refused to sing them, resulting in a much changed lineup! How bizarre is that? Elysabeth Grant, Athan Maroulis, Nicki Jaine and Michael Laird have stayed true to the cause, and also hauled willingly on board, once they have queued to slap Sam’s face, are Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls riding shotgun and Attrition’s Laurie Reade who has been very busy lately.
It’s not all mid-life musical crisis of course. I have never been the only asking what might happen if there was a more conventional musical setting for their work, and here we have some of the answers. ‘Tell Me You’ve Taken Another’ is fabulous indie crossover which makes exactly the kind of direct connection I’d expect, the melody stronger the more the atmosphere is opened up, and the furtive or salacious lyrical content made weirder because of the refined surroundings, with a haunting flute wending through the filth as the singer proclaims, ‘I never separate the shame from the pleasure it arouses,’ sounding a bit mental. All in all it’s like a less melodramatic Marc Almond soiree.
‘Inch Worm’ contains the hallmarks of early BTFABG, and a twirly thing it is, with a chorus which would have been much better without the words ‘inch worm’ involved, as that’s a bit prissy (despite being inspired by a Courtney Cox blog), leading to something like a corrupted nursery rhyme. Great lyrics litter the jauntily sauntering journey including, ‘at least I won’t be embarrassed when I meet you in Hell.’ There’s a similar flow to ‘Sailor Boy’ and while there’s an intentional cabaret feel to both of these tunes, it’s also got a historical, bellicose quality amidst the naughty nautical allusions. I’m not sure what ‘Caught By A Stranger’ is, other than another lurid tale, as the music moans and slithers along, before we get the ‘expurgated’ version of ‘Sailor Boy’ and that’s that.
It promises to be an unusual album, clearly. The fetish themes and cabaret stylings are all old hat of course, as these have been done to death since the mid-90’s, but in this group the sound dynamics are different, as are the contrasts between word and music, so weird things will emerge. Reading the press release it seems more than likely. I am a complete innocent about such matters, but apparently the songs concern dom/sub, furries (a cover of ‘Memory’ from ultra-pervathon Cats perhaps?), police state fetishists (eh?), pro-anna (no idea there either), exhibitionists, humiliation, pain, self-destruction, cuckholding fantasies (what!) and anonymous sex.
The bit that amused me is where Sam talks of being a father and how children represent the clean slate and people can screw them up because of their own issues. Flash forward a few years. “Dad, can we listen to some of your records?” “Of course you can! Er, not that one….”
Sam Rosenthal's Black Tape for a Blue Girl are a seminal group. Thanks to Sam's label (Projekt) they've become bound to the "darkwave" subgenre. And the cover for their new Quadranotics EP, which features a beautiful naked, pale woman arising from cold, white nothingness, seems to imply that we're in traditional territory for the band.
We are not.
As the first track (an intrepretation of As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire’s “Tell Me You’ve Taken Another”) illustrates Sam has reinvented and reinvigorated his band. This piece recalls nothing so much as the 70's pervy pop of no less a luminary than Serge Gainsbourg. It's infused with an easy listening depravity that may be shocking to some, arousing to others. You see, it's not the front cover of this CD that we should be paying attention to, it's the back. On the backside we find the image of a woman ( also undressed) on her elbows and knees wearing an appliance somewhere between a unicorn's horn and a dunce cap. It is both sexy and *strange*.
This is the new world of the new Black Tape for a Blue Girl, beyond merely sexy into the realm of the kinky/pervy. And it is a new Black Tape for a Blue Girl. Rosenthal has convened a new group featuring members of Dresden Dolls, Spahn Ranch and Attrition. These are dirty stories set to music...
As always it's the music that keeps me hooked. Four different songs, four different styles. After the sleazy listening (with a touch of indie pop) of the first track with its tale of gleeful cuckolding we move onto "Inch Worm". This number brings Sam's recent love of dark cabaret to the front with a nice Weimar era roll to the back beat. There's serious desire and longing echoing here. Track three, "Sailor Boy", really reveals the influence of Brian Viglione. There is clearly rock to be found in this song... but its rock as filtered through Nick Cave or Tom Waits. Gritty, filthy/raunchy... it addresses the age old question of who actually holds the power in a Dom/Sub relationship. Finally "Caught by a Stranger" is lovely, coming within a hair's breadth of operatic folk. This tack makes the song that much more seductive when conveying the narrator's plea for exhibitionist explorations.
Obviously Quadranotics is a apéritif for the upcoming 10 Neurotics full length. But isn't that what all singles are suppose to do? To whet our appetites and help us get a bit of a buzz on before the banquet begins?
My curiousity and palate are piqued. Bring on the decadent main course.