A review from Abyss Magazine (Portugal):
This is really a thrilling release. Sam Rosenthal (main lyricist and composer) has managed to develop an intensely sensual and romantic (yet metaphoric) tale set in 1913 Prague, mainly inspired by the extravagant art-works of Marchel Duchamp and the writings of Franz Kafka; introducing the first conceptual album for Black Tape For a Blue Girl and for sure their most enchanting and spellbinding release to date. It's deadly impressing to hear how neo-classical music has the power to dig deeper into ones inner feelings and depth enriching not only this genre & the subsequent culture allied with it, as well as keeping up with a contemporary edge of delicate melodies which all together are amazingly emotional and further develop a classic richness in instrumentation and vocal-wise. Elysabeth & Lisa are the wonderful singers that together with Sam have recreated this remarkably crafted album, which is the eight hof this band in sixteen years (!), and again a luxurious beauty of unique & incomparable music. Listening to Black Tape For a Blur Girl is a one of a kind experience, it's much more than just the ethereal and exotic textures of cello, violin, flute and other memorable orchestrations employed by the traditional instruments (yes, it brings to my mind Dead Can Dance), this is more like an introspective journey through an epoch, a mind, a haunting narrative which combines the dark elements of electronics with the fragile and intimate moments of chamber music. The Scavenger Bride is discreetly tragic, rather melancholic and sad, but at the same time sweet and with a blissful ambience. If you're still a stranger to this sonority all I can say is that Black Tape For a Blue Girl produce an extraordinary blend of passionate music and truly deserve to be recognized for their fine talent and imagination, they're a highly recommend outlet for anyone out there seeking a more peaceful escape and subtle contemplation. - Nuno M.
In part an extension of Black Tape's previous album As One Aflame, Laid Bare by Desire, thanks to the continued inspiration of Marcel Duchamp, the excellent and captivating The Scavenger Bride is the first record by Sam Rosenthal and company explicitly conceived and performed as a uniform piece. It's a concept album, though without the baggage that such a term normally brings, thanks to the varied performances throughout the record tied into the overall Black Tape aesthetic. Noted Czech author Franz Kafka is perhaps the key source for The Scavenger Bride's tale of a woman and her past lovers, while everyone from actor Klaus Kinski to Sonic Youth also provides some of the artistic focus for Rosenthal. Indeed, one of the highlights is "Shadow of a Doubt," one of Sonic Youth 's finest early numbers, its breathless, nerve-tingling energy beautifully translated into a combination of piano, drums, viola and vocals, the last two delivered with dramatic panache by new member Elysabeth Grant. The core band of five this time features Rosenthal and returning members Feuer and Richards on flute and violin respectively, rounded out by cellist Julia Kent and Grant - interestingly, long time vocalist Oscar Herrera doesn't feature once on the record. With the drowned, cascading wash of sound familiar from Black Tape in general achieving a new strength on songs like "The Scavenger's Daughter" and "Das Liselottenbett," the band is further assisted by a slew of fellow Projekt artists and similarly minded souls. Michael Laird from Unto Ashes adds dashes of medieval dance turns via percussion and mandolin throughout - check out the entrancing "All My Lovers," also featuring Audra's Bret Helm backing Grant on vocals - while Steve Roach, Athan Maroulis from Spahn Ranch, Martin Bowes from Attrition and Christopher David from Judith further add to the album's serenely mysterious flow. Keep an ear out for Helm's lead turn on "The Lie Which Refuses to Die," which uses seemingly mundane imagery in quite a striking fashion. - Ned Raggett. Rating 5:5
A review from Alternative Press #168 (July 2002):
Kafkaesque disc avoids concept-album pitfalls to emerge as a true work of art. | 9 out of 10 | Listening to "The Scavenger Bride" by Black Tape for a Blue Girl is like sitting in a cathedral of mindful gloom, feeling at once melancholy and reassured. Sam Rosenthal continues to be inspired by the art of Marcel Duchamp, while author Franz Kafka serves as muse for this concept album set in 1913 Prague. The title track is a cinematic overture, a portent of the artful blending of goth, ambient and chamber music to follow. Rich, timeless vocals by Elysabeth Grant, Bret Helm, and others breathe dark life into the passionate lyrics, but it's the instrumental passages-with flute by Lisa Feuer, violin by Vicki Richards, cello by Julia Kent and electronics by Rosenthal-that burrow deep with the greatest poignancy. Comparisons with Dead Can Dance have become tiresome and inaccurate, for what Rosenthal is doing here is more original and singular in its ability to touch the listener both emotionally and intellectually. - Mark Burbey
Awhirl with lavish, dark theatrical moods, age-spanning musical modes and assorted art/cultural influences, the scavenger bride is another stylishly executed Goth-operetta from sam rosenthal and company. black tape for a blue girl successfully aims for the chamber-music side of the black-clad crowd, or vice versa. Besides the primary members... elysabeth grant (vocals and viola), lisa feuer (flute), julia kent (cello), vicki richards (violin) and rosenthal (electronics), a long cast of minor characters/musicians come and go on this dimly lit stage including members of Unto Ashes, Audra, Spahn Ranch, Judith and Attrition, as well Steve Roach.
Solemn-though-lovely stringstreams arc through an instrumental doorway, the scavenger bride. Threaded through with elysabeth's sinuous vocal strands, ephemeral/orchestral kinski's lyrics remain somewhat unattainable within drifting veils of sound. shadow of a doubt is unrecognizable as a Sonic Youth tune, dancing in soft piano tones amid whispers, wails and light beats. Acoustic tinkling/bowed melancholy and bittersweet surreality grace short tale, the doorkeeper (1:17). Droningly electronic forces brood beneath writhing violin currents in the first (of three) parts of like a dog/ letter to brod (10:27); bret helm's croaky vocalizations over dramatic orchestration are swallowed by a spaciously thrumming void (a highlight for the ambient-minded among us!) which eventually exudes murky faux piano melodiousness. Exotic Easternism briefly meets some softly-delivered S&M imagery in the whipper.
Skillfully wrought, the scavenger bride further broadens (in 51 minutes) whatever preconceptions one might have as to what "Goth" is or isn't... black tape for a blue girl renders the question moot by doing what it does best, weaving art and angst into seductively refined scenes. The pallid-yet-passionate pastiche incorporates impressions of Klaus Kinski, Franz Kafka, Marcel Duchamp and others into lusciously dreary electro/symphonic/vocal tapestries woven in earnest neoclassical motifs. As always, gorgeously packaged with Lisa modeling and Sam providing photo and design
A review from Back Again Webzine:
This is "out of this world music", this is dreamy, this is incomparable! I really like BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL for more than ten years and I love all their releases that I know (unfortunately I do not know all of them), but this actual album is so wonderful, that it is not easy for me to find the right words. The only comparison, that I find is the Italian band Ataraxia, which is one of my all time favorites. BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL often have the same melancholic, but not dark, atmosphere. They combine electronic sounds perfectly with acoustic instruments like Flute, Violin and Cello and mastermind Sam Rosenthal always finds the right guest musicians for every song, like Martin Bowes (Attrition), Bret Helm (Audra), Michael Laird (Unto Ashes), Christopher David (Judith) and Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch). The Band itself has highly talented musicians like Lisa Feuer (also the beautiful cover model), Julia Kent, Vicki Richards and Elysabeth Grant, whose voice is fairy-like and very many-sided. It is not possible to name any special "Hits" on this album, but you should listen carefully and take it as a unity. This is perfect melancholic music with a lot of neoclassical influences and sometimes a couple of "Celtic" feeling. In some songs there is also some kind of New Wave feeling, but don't expect any danceable moments. This is music to die for!
Even the lyrics are often very poetical and I can really dive into the words of the poem (not a song!)"Nothing I Can Say" for example, it is very familiar to me.
BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL use some influences of writer Franz Kafka and Marcel Duchamp and also produced a tribute to actor Klaus Kinski, so they created bot, a very personal and a very many-sided album, a classic!
And, as always, this CD has a very special, beautiful artwork, in fact it is the most wonderful, I saw in the last couple of years, maybe one of the finest ever!. What else can I say to convince you, getting this release? It is simply a "must"! (A.P.)
Like cats, goths apparently also have nine lives. It seems no amount of teasing on Saturday Night Live can stop the goth genre from surviving. Maybe that's because goths invent worlds where the bed sheets are velvet and the streets are paved in centuries old blood. And the hair? We should all have hair like that. It's a sensual world (a land of Rogaine?) where flutes and stringed instruments take precedence over distorted guitars and drums. Black Tape for a Blue Girl has been making this strange ethereal music for 16 years. Members casually come and go with Sam Rosenthal directing the inaction -- albeit meticulously produced inaction -- from behind his arsenal of electronics.
The Scavenger Bride is the band's eighth release. Predictably, the album is filled with intellectual pursuits, and is dedicated to that lovable corporate cog Franz Kafka. It is a varied musical excursion, full of sweet little songs and the first to be an actual "concept album" which follows the loveliness of a young bride and her would-be suitors in Prague 1913. As such, it's a different concept album than Andrew W.K.'s latest exploration into the party scene and there probably won't be much of a crossover. But while W.K.'s people are trashing the penthouse, Black Tape's solemn crowd will be politely nodding in the basement with the incense burning. The lush textures have nothing to do with modern music's addiction to the quick, catchy pop hook or the cathartic pummeling of nu-metal. Instead, the music creates a dream-like transcendence, escapism, a world without parking tickets or home improvement shows, where emotion is centered on the desires of the flesh. - Rob O'Connor
This beautiful 8th release by Black Tape For A Blue Girl is dense with romantic and sacred atmospheres which recall the best works by Dead Can Dance. Sam Rosenthal is more and more deserving the sceptre of the best composer and player of ethereal music while Elisabeth Grant's singing reaches down to the deepest of the soul; the two are backed by a large number of great strings, flutes, cello, fiddles, dulcimer and drums players and add the right dose of keyboard and electronics. This album is definitely one of the best dark-ambient, romantic and impressionist works to tease our ears, an album such as we have long desired from our European bands with its fluent electronic layers, its traditional piano and drums, which lead the listener to a dreamlike, astral perception with thirteen decadent, in-looking love songs to listen to in a gently moonlit darkness. - Claudio Giammarini
Can we expect anything but brilliance from this group? I was wondering the effect that the marriage of Sam Rosenthal and Lisa Feuer would have on the band, given it's themes of isolation and love betrayed. It seems to have given a new strength and edge to the group rather than staying in the same course. While not the tour de force of As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire, it is a force to be reckoned with, a guiding light for an often redundant ethereal scene. Elizabeth is the songbird of deepest winter, with a raw sensuality to her vocals that may well siren call you into the stereo. Sam's piano/synth lines flow over his elegant poetry, painting the lost heroine and her tragic tale like a pained sculptor of emotion. Lisa's flutes are like hearing the voice of a lost lover in your mind, filled to the brim with melancholy and crushing emotion at the same time. My favorite is "Floats in the Updrafts" which is also the shortest. I could have standed for this to be alot longer. And a guest appearance from Spahn Ranch on this one?!The guys vocals are actually quite elegant. Also I recommend the aforementioned As One Aflame, which is too powerful to even start describing. But where is our old buddy Oscar Herrera?!? Rating:10 - KlingKlangBedlam
A review from Chicago Sun Times:
Chicago's goth mainstays move to New York but remain true to their moody roots, despite twists like covering Sonic Youth. - Jim DeRogatis
BTFABG is an American band, signed on the brilliant Projekt label. BTFABG has often been compared to Dead Can Dance. I don't understand this comparison as, in my opinion, musically BTFABG is a much better band than Dead Can Dance. For "The Scavenger Bridge", they've acquired a new lead singer - Elysabeth Grant. She has a beautiful voice. They've also made use of a variety of different instruments like flute, cello and violins, and keyboards. "The Scavenger Bridge" is really a masterpiece with a lot of brilliant songs and a few instrumental tracks where you can really hear how talented the musicians in BTFABG are. The album is full of beautiful songs that almost lulls the listener into a kind of a trance. When I hear "The Scavenger Bridge", it feels as though I'm going on a journey into an amazing universe of musical euphoria. Not only is "The Scavenger Bridge" the most melodic of their albums I ever heard, the production and the cover artwork is also amazing. "The Scavenger Bridge" shows that Black Tape For A Blue Girl is one of the best bands in the Ethereal genre, if not the best!
[An intro from an interview
] I have been patiently awaiting the eighth release of the new black tape for a blue girl record and when I received the scavenger bride, I was blown away by the near perfection of this opus. From the opening song, "the scavenger bride" to the final thirteenth track "bastille day, 1961," black tape for a blue girl take you on an aural journey to the foyers of the past to early 1900s era Prague, and it feels like you are being literally drawn into the romantic and mystickal lush landscape they have brought to life. Letting your emotions run wild, lighting your favorite scented candles, drinking absinthe or red wine will surely add to the experience you will journey into. I can't get enough of this album and black tape fans, will be enthralled and newcomers who are into ethereal, darkwave, and gothic music will be pleasantly delighted by the powerful sonic assault this album delivers. - Sophie Diamantis-Fry
A review from DVS Records:
The Scavenger Bride is the latest album by Sam Rosenthal's collaborative ensemble, Black Tape For a Blue Girl. While still drifting around in a blue ethereal haze for much of the album's duration, there is a definite pull in the direction of proper songs. Not rock songs mind you, but something more akin to musical theatre and vaudeville. This is certainly a welcome change, for though Black Tape excels at navigating the dark seas of ethereal ambient, there is definitely a point where mere ambiance becomes redundant. Sometimes you need form. The Scavenger Bride is something of a Prague concept album, with Kafka tributes, absinthe and everything else you'd expect from a goth consort performing songs about the Czech city. Some songs, "Kinski" and the cover of Sonic Youth's "Shadow of a Doubt" being prominent examples, stay clear of the main theme. Being a huge fan of Werner Herzog's films, I have to announce that "Kinski" is a love song of sorts directed at that late great lunatic thespian, Klaus Kinski! Both veterans of Black Tape and newcomers provide vocals. Elysabeth Grant is the main star of the show, but perhaps my favorite singing voice belongs to Athan, who at his absolute best is a dramatic dead ringer for David Bowie. The ethereal tracks are more of the same and the theatrical songs are far too short for my tastes. But it is promising to see so talented a composer as Rosenthal heading in a direction comparable to Lacrimosa and Angizia, abandoning his reliance on texture for a stronger show of songwriting. While I still hold Remnants of a Deeper Purity as their greatest album, I am more inclined to recommend The Scavenger Bride to newcomers. It is a more diverse and accessible work.
Mandolin, dulcimer, flute, cello, piano, Doumbek, violin, percussion and electronics, what else could one ask for in an album from über-goth/darkwave label Projekt Records? Some suitably melodramatic vocals perhaps, which also are here in both male and female variety. Self-described as their first concept album, The Scavenger Bride has a tale to tell with each number. The songs consider the state of a bride and those she has loved, and are appropriately inspired by existentialist writer Franz Kafka. Certainly the lyrics are largely dealing with matters of the soul, the intense inner workings of the heart, mind and powerful emotions, but without knowing your way around, the existentialist's take on life the album's "concept" might seem as absurd as our existence itself. Nonetheless, this dour bunch has been around for over a decade-and-a-half and there is a definite sophistication about their music to prove it. They go beyond the gothic tendency to slip into self-indulgence mostly via their expert instrumentation. Dark and beautiful, the songs remain simple and restrained but not repetitive. High points include the Bauhaus-flavoured "The Lie Which Refuses to Die" and a clever reworking of Sonic Youth's "Shadow of a Doubt." -Coreen Wolanski
If you pay attention to the lyrics as intently as the music they're set to you'll discover The Scavenger Bride is likened to an epic story of forbidden romance, loss and despair much more than simply an album. The dark gothic music is a fitting soundtrack to the emotions the songwriters work toward putting across on record. This album revolves around a concept set in Europe in the early twentieth century (Prague in the year 1913 to be precise), based heavily on the writings of Franz Kafka and the art of French impressionist Marcel Duchamp. Kafka's conceptual work is often quoted in lyrics arranged like short poems reflecting the author's private thoughts written in notebooks or personal journals forever kept hidden from the outside world. Quite a few of these short poems are included in the liner notes as pieces not set to any music, possibly to provide additional insight as to how the story is progressing. The idea behind the story by my gathering is an ascension, agonizing decline and rebirth of a woman's inner soul through deep love and deeper loss. In some ways this parallels the life of Duchamp because around the same time as the album is set in the artist was forced to abandon his life's work due to the "great intellectual crisis" that arose from a vast gap between his inspiration and how successfully or unsuccessfully he was able to translate it into his art. The piano and atmospheric keyboards accompanying the profound vocal style of Elysabeth Grant recapture this sense of decline in creativity and the frustration in finding oneself unable to stop it. Rating: 3/4
Throughout all the years that I have been collecting music, this awesome talent-filled group is still definitely one of my favorite all-time groups. The music can only be described as emotionally spellbinding. I believe that Sam and his collaborators are those that have helped define what Ethereal or "Heavenly Voices" music is today. Every minute of their violin solos, flute solos and heavenly voices hold the listener entranced. Sam Rosenthal's lyrics all tell a story that makes you listen and feel the music. And now after 16 years of existence, it all still comes together as a masterpiece with each album, indeed with each note and lyric from each song.
While the lineup has changed a bit over the years, the solid backbone of Sam's talents combined with the other four current artists make up this astounding combination of talents. Currently (2002), the lineup consists of Elysabeth Grant (vocals & viola), Lisa Feuer (Flute), Julia Kent (Cello), Vicki Richards (Violin) and Sam Rosenthal (Electronics). Past members have been a large contributing factor to the success of each of these albums. Oscar Herrera has been one of my favorite vocalists whom you'll hear on many other BTFBG albums. You will always be able to find many of the tracks, old and new, from these wonderful artists on my radio shows. Be sure to check them out, and if you're a newcomer to this fabulous sound, then be sure to pick up the entire back-catalog of releases, you won't be disappointed!
After nearly four long years of waiting for this release, it has finally arrived. Released in stores on April 23, 2002, this album is a continuation of all the talent, emotion, powerful lyrics and ethereal content that we have grown accustomed to with BTFBG. Sam Rosenthal received a lot of help besides the four core members for this album. Yet each track comes together as a masterpiece of art and not easily compared. This album, as with many albums from this group, is not just placed in a CD player and listened to as background music. While that is an enjoyable experience in itself, you will not fully enjoy this album unless you visually take in the art on the box and insert, read through the prose and lyrics and then, if you have a little more time, research some of the influences to this work. When you've done all of that, then all the music, lyrics and vocals all pull together to make a thematic and artistic piece.
There are many players in this theatre of music, including guests such as Michael Laird from Unto Ashes, Bret Helm from Audra, Athan Maroulis of Spahn Ranch, Christopher David from Judith and Martin Bowes of Attrition. With this combination of talent, it's only apparent the quality of music that is a result. After the beautiful introductory title track, Lisa takes a turn at the lyrics with Elysabeth's awesomely beautiful vocals on "Kinski", a dedication to Klaus Kinski. This is an excellent, dreamy-sounding track with a bit of echo overshadowing the vocals and the classic flute being the main solo instrument.
"All my lovers" is one of my favorite tracks on this album, with a bit of a danceable beat with the more notable percussion and a middle eastern taste to it. This is probably due to the addition of Michael Laird's percussion and mandolin talents added in. In fact, you could even compare this track to some of the tracks from Unto Ashes. "A livery of bachelors" is another track that exhibits more of this percussion, but without the strong middle eastern influence. More of a classic BTFBG piece in my opinion, brought out more by the fronting male vocals that Athan Maroulis contributes.
There are many more highlights to this album, and for me each track is wonderful and could easily my favorite. I enjoy this music so much that I really couldn't find much of a flaw, though there may be small ones that aren't easily noticed. The entire project seems to blend together well. Suffice it to say that anyone who enjoys past BTFBG albums will enjoy this as much or more. Be sure to give it a listen when you get a chance!
Black tape for a blue girl has been a touchstone for the modern Gothic music scene for well over fifteen years now, not only for its own melancholy take on matters of the heart but also for the stewardship by leader/synthesist Sam Rosenthal of the great independent label Projekt. The Scavenger Bride, however, removes the group from anything as defining as a genre. A concept album based on the writings of Franz Kafka, The Scavenger Bride
tells the story of a would-be bride and all the men who woo and lose her. Set in 1913 Prague, the tale is told by a schavager (essentially a town janitor) to a group of strangers in a bar, setting up a tale within a tale in the Don Quixote tradition. Using a more diverse assembly of instrumentation than ever before and melodies derived more from classical art song than rock or pop, Rosenthal casts a spell as much literary as musical. While the pieces are as obsessed with decaying romance as anything the band has done previously, the conceptual thrust and musical sweep of black tape's eight album place it far beyond anything so simply defined as Goth.
The album begins with the oceanic electronics of the title track, which is meant to be heard while reading the opening text in the graphics-intensive booklet. It then moves into "Kinski," an ethereal love song to actor Klaus Kinski. Singer Elysabeth Grant languidly relates her desire for "the passion and fury" the troubled thespian represents over an electronic soundscape enhanced by Lisa Fleur's flute and hammered dulcimer from guest Michael Laird of Unto Ashes. The vocal melody seemingly follows its own path across the musical scale, but its disconnection to the music it accompanies is an illusion. "Kinski" pretty much sets the pattern for the rest of the record. Rosenthal layers his synthesizers into the arrangements as if making a particularly warm bed; the singers rest atop the covers, writhing in the throes of their own lucid dreams. Longer pieces like "The Scavenger's Daughter" and "Like a Dog/Letter to Brod" (also meant to be listened to whilst absorbing the text) stand as no less than beautifully realized mini-symphonies, with arias, movements and a sense of flow from one idea to the next that few composers in the rock world can even understand, let alone emulate. Short tracks like "The Doorkeeper" and "The Whipper" serve almost as oases, letting the musical traveler rest for a minute or two, as the bride relates lesser moments of her star-crossed history over ambient beds of electronics.
There's nothing here that could be called pop, but some tracks have catchier tunes than others. Audra's Bret Helm guest stars on the calmly menacing "The Lie Which Refuses to Die," as his baritone smoothly croons lyrics like "I'm the one who's rightly to blame for everything they ever wanted that has not come true." "A Livery of Bachelors" gently weaves a waltz into a gossamer curtain of sound, with guest guitars from Helm and Judith's Christopher David and a beautifully nuanced vocal from Spahn Ranch's Athan Maroulis. "All My Lovers" furnishes the record's most conventional melody, as another waltz finds itself prodded along by Grant's lovely singing and Laird's percolating percussion and mandolin. But even these tracks fit better as part of the whole, rather than as separate pieces. This is a truly conceptual work, meant to flow from one section to the next. As such, it takes multiple listens to fully absorb. One hopes that the loyal Goth audience black tape for a blue girl has painstakingly built over the years and adventurous listeners outside of the genre's purview will have the patience to give The Scavenger Bride the attention it deserves to appreciate its remarkable beauty. - Michael Toland
For the first time, I can call something Kafka-esque without sounding pretentious. And while we're at it, it's Bohemian to boot. Sam Rosenthal has woven much of this work with Kafka's dark ironies. Even so far as to adapt the bounced Czech's words into the lyrics. Don't go running off for the simpler taste of the Cro-Mags just yet. The Scavenger Bride doesn't require a degree in letters, or any understanding of existentialism to appreciate. The rich orchestration tracks an inspiring theme as ambitious as Crime & The City Solution. Pursue it as deeply as you care to, even if just for some good sleepytime tuneage. The same goes for your sonic commitment. Use as background while drinking international coffee with your bridge club. Or crank it during that luxurious bubble bath and let it encompass every part of your essence as the wine spills from your wrist-mouths.
The minimalist title track consists of little more than distant chords stretched to quarter-mile notes layer upon layer. Something of an opening credit sedative from the turtle monks of the Dark Crystal. In "Kinski," chanteuse Elysabeth Grant professes her devotion Klaus poetically, You who are perfection made flesh, your light is so intense, so bright. It does not blind me, but rather bathes me in a sensual warmth. That's quite a dreamy tribute to the Polish equivalent of Rutger Hauer. Lofty flute overseers the tickled dulcimer as the run-on sentences pile on flattery. The first sign of percussion comes in "All My Loves." Light bongos and shakers pepper the renaissance campfire of a tune. Sing-song vocals add to the hypnotic mandolin and rubbery bass. The whispered confession of Sonic Youth's "Shadow Of A Doubt" spills into a pleading nightmare. Piano clanks through the fray, which sounds a bit like Swing Out Sister. The simple keyboard on "The Doorkeeper" is so familiar and welcome, that it's almost a shame when the cello steps out. The matronly vocals bring the angelic to earth. Songs like this and "Floats In Updrafts" end far too soon, giving just a glimpse before disappearing. "A Livery Of Bachelors" has a more present beat, with tinkling sparkles floating above. Spahn Ranch's Athan Maroulis delivers the melodrama on this one like a sadder, more serious Marc Almond. The Gelfling cello reappears for, "Das Lislottenbett." The gorgeous, swelling fluted instrumental virtually begs for a soundtrack deal. Where's Wim Wenders when you need him?
Hearing Brett Helm croak out the Murphy-esque "The Lie Which Refuses To Die" has me scrambling to find work by his band Aura. Not only is the voice beautifully gravelly, the lyrics are amusingly pedestrian: I'm the stain that won't come out, the toilet backed up, the ticket on their car, the overdue bills. This sort of underplayed demon is very refreshing. Attrition's Martin Bowes narrates "The Scavenger's Daughter." The graphic description of a torture device is then granted release in Grant's sweet lilt. Plaintive strings allow distance from the horror and don't look back until escape is certain. With its eastern feel and near didgeridoo waves, "Like A Dog" flows into "Letters To Brod." Helm delivers a pipe-stretching message to the friend who betrayed Franz' wishes by publishing his work. The lush Pink Dots package is a genital rumbling, sinister one. The lingering echoed keyboards give you plenty of time to think about it, where you're going. "The Whipper" offers attractively disturbing images in the pristine confusion. As well as confirming that chicks dig the bad boys. The whipper was proud and stood over two men I once loved. Takemetakeme Grant presents all the Jarboe theatrics without the turning into Satan bit. Her duet with the piano on "Bastille Day" ends out like b-side Felt. (The good side.) The sort of song you never hear the end of because you've been in after-sex R.E.M. for 20 minutes.
On a scale of compatible bands inserted into movies: one being This Mortal Kombat, and ten being Sex In The City Solution, The Scavenger Bride comes in at nine - Dead Can Wear Plaid. - Ewan Wadharmi
Strap on those corsets and slip on the velvet gloves kids, for one of America's foremost goth mainstays have returned with enough melodrama and tranquil beauty to upstage Merchant & Ivory. Black Tape's main songwriter, Sam Rosenthal is never one for musical modesty, and The Scavenger Bride harnesses Celtic dabbling under the grandiose trappings of Dead Can Dance mysticism and new age undertones. Main chanteuse Elysabeth Grant lends her symphonic, somber vocals to the majority of tracks, with the exception of the rest of the band handling backing vocal duties, as well as guest stars like Spahn Ranch's Athan Maroulis on the all-too-brief "Floats in the Updraft." Perhaps most surprising, rock deities Sonic Youth are paid homage to with the spoken word interpretation of "Shadow of a Doubt." As to be expected from this group, the overtones are cavernous, dark tapestries, making Black Tape one of the few bands left who truly signify Gothic music. They wear their hearts on their laced sleeves, creating ancient music for modern times, updated with technology, but still making one feel as if they were moonlighting with Vlad Drac in some Transylvanian twist. Drift away to this on your melancholy Sundays, but use discretion in any other circumstance, especially when driving. - Kiran Aditham
A review from Le Fantastique:
Rarement un disque n'aura t, je pense, attendu avec autant d'intr t. Tout qui avait pu, avec dlice et frissons, se plonger dans l'rotisme glac et brumeux de As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire, opus prcdent de Black Tape for a Blue Girl, se demandait vers o Sam Rosenthal allait emmener son projet. La rponse est venue rapidement, le prcieux botier peine dball: les superbes photos Lisa Feuer, sous l'objectif de Sam trahissent la filiation entre les deux Ïuvres. La lecture des commentaires et la toute premire coute ne laissent alors aucun doute: The Scavenger Bride ne peut tre que le second volet d'une Ïuvre conceptuelle sur le m me thme du dsir, de la femme proie et prdatrice et des rapports ambigus entre souffrance et jouissance, une sorte "d'opra gothique" dont As One AflameÉ constituait le long prlude. Musicalement, The Scavenger Bride est certainement l'Ïuvre la plus aboutie de Black Tape..., mais peut- tre aussi la plus accessible. Tout en s'enchanant naturellement, les thmes musicaux et les rythmes sont varis et vitent ainsi toute impression de longueur qui pouvait parfois tre perceptible l'coute du disque prcdent. Le disque est parsem de moments forts, dont une tonnante reprise de Sonic Youth ("Shadow of a Doubt"), un texte de Kafka ("Like a Dog/Letter to Brod") et un morceau final ("Bastille Day, 1961") tout en sensualit, dans lequel se conjuguent le chant d'Elysabeth Grant et le piano de Sam. Avec The Scavenger Bride, Sam Rosenthal ralise un nouveau chef d'Ïuvre, dans ce style si particulier entre Dark Wave, No-Classique, Ambient et Gothique. - P-J H
A review from Louisville Music News:
There are at least two ideal locations for experiencing the music flowing through The Scavenger Bride, the latest release by Black Tape For a Blue Girl. One place is inside an airtight suit on your next spacewalk, giving you the ability to take in this floating music while you gaze out and take in the incredible view as far as you can see all around you. Another place is floating on the craft of your choice on any body of water where you can't see land. So, it's an awe-inspiring, religious experience of a CD? Not exactly, but it does promote introspection (or perhaps clearing the mind) and the liberating idea that life doesn't always have to be lived in high gear, so you might as well take about an hour's worth of inner vacation and enjoy some musical serenity.
The songs with vocals are works of dramatic theater; some of which theater is a bit dark, and that's quite appropriate for a CD with the notation, "in appreciation of Franz Kafka" at the end of the accompanying booklet. You might be wondering, "When is this guy going to comment on individual songs?" That seems unnecessary because this disc is such a quilt of spacey and emotionally stirring music, with various textures from beginning to end. It sounds like an ambient film score with some dramatic moments along the way, like a calm night with intermittent thunderstorms. I highly recommend this disc. Black Tape has several back records and they're an experimental, underground crew so it's not a case of "If you've heard one you've heard them all." I urge you to see and hear for yourself . - David Lilly
"Over fifteen years later, Sam Rosenthal has finished his eighth Black Tape For A Blue Girl release. As usual, the band, with various other musicians from other Projekt bands, consummate an audio CD inspired, in part, by the artwork of Marcel Duchamp and the writings of Franz Kafka. The CD, The Scavenger Bride, marks the 130th release for the Projekt label. BTFABG is the flagship band on the label, a label filled with bands that, like BTFABG, over the last decade and a half have coined the term "Darkwave." the scavenger bride, is a tranquil blend of orgasmic male and female vocals that brush across your ear drums like whispers at midnight. Stringed instruments never sounded so enrapturing. Not so long ago, BTFABG released their sixth CD, remnants of a deeper purity, which, ironically, the scavenger bride, itself, continues to be. Best taken in the dark, submerged in water, candles aglow." - David Paul Wyatt Perko. Rating: 5/5
The best album Black Tape has put out in years! An incredibly sophisticated concept album, featuring the talents of singer Elysabeth Grant, who has toured with Black Tape extensively, Julia Kent formerly of Rasputina, Michael Laird of Unto Ashes, and Bret Helm of Audra. Bittersweet and beautiful.
Managing Projekt Records has turned Sam Rosenthal into quite a busy man, these days. Thus, it is almost four years ago the last Black Tape album, As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire, was released. Now, at last, the eighth full-length album, The Scavenger Bride, is here. And I must say, it was definitely worth waiting for! This album is quite a piece of work, at least the best since the 1993 album This Lush Garden Within. The music is more elaborate than ever, and the neo-classical elements are given a bigger emphasis. This time, male vocalist Oscar Hererra, who has participated on every album before this one, is gone, and male vocals are performed by Bret Helm of Audra (also on Projekt Records) and Athan Maroulis of Spahn Ranch. I must confess that, even though I have been a Black Tape fan for almost ten years, I have never been that excited about Oscar's voice and I am quite pleased to hear someone else's for a change. Other guest appearances include Michael Laird of Unto Ashes, Christopher David of Judith, Martin Bowes of Attrition and Steve Roach.
The Scavenger Bride is a concept album set in Prague in the early twentieth century. It tells the story of a bride about to be married and her previous lovers, for whom she is now lost. There is a darkly romantic feeling to the music, enhanced by the sad and evocative lyrics. The music consists mainly of flute, strings, piano and layers of lush, atmospheric electronics. On several songs the instrumentation is enriched further by the addition of for example dulcimer, mandolin or guitar.
One of the great strengths about this album is the variation of the music. There is a lot of work and effort put into the composition, arrangement and production of the songs and this results in a very dynamic and rich sound full of subtle details. The vocals are yet another strength. Both female and male vocals are excellently performed, though I must say that Bret Helm is the one who impress me the most. His cold, deep voice is perfect for dark and powerful songs like "Like a Dog/Letter to Brod". Also, the female vocalist Elysabeth Grant (who also plays viola) impress me greatly on for instance "Shadow of a Doubt", which is in fact a Sonic Youth cover, believe it or not.
The only negative thing I have to say about this album is that, due to the fact that it is a concept album, some songs become somewhat pointless if you listen to them separately. There are a few very short tracks on the album that seems more important for their part in the story than for their musical contribution. If you listen to the entire album this is not a problem, but I would have liked it even better if all songs were more independent of each other. Still, this does not change the fact that The Scavenger Bride is a stunningly beautiful album and Sam Rosenthal keeps convincing with his amazing compositions and his poetic lyrical touch. It is simply great, and I don't think there is much more to say about it. - Anders Eklund
Years past, Lou Reed made a conceptual album named Berlin and called it a "movie of the mind". Black Tape's eighth, and latest masterpiece, "the scavenger bride" is reminescent of that idea except they create "movies of the soul". Replete with the lushness of love and the darkness of rejection, "the scavenger bride" unfolds a remarkable set of songs. Each song, a testament to the genius of black tape's founder, Sam Rosenthal, wends its way through the broken down and lost pathways leading to the human spirit. What it finds there, in that spirit, is neither peace nor transcendence but rather a miasma of excrutiatingly intense and icicled discoveries.
The language of the lyrics haunt with a fierceness that doesn't leave for hours, indeed days. There is funereal sadness in the delivery of those lyrics.Whether sung by Elysabeth Grant with her wonderfully poignant voice or sung by several male contributers providing the touches of aural darkness so vividly etched into the soundscape of this work. Every musical sound emanating from this disc is so necessary to the dissemination of the stories, from the artistic merging of strings provided by Grant's viola, from Julia Kent's cello and from Vicki Richards' evocative violin to the misty and eternal flute of Lisa Feuer. Sam Rosenthal's command of the project and his outstanding atmospheric electronic work seals the glory. With each hanging note, a mood becomes set that whisks the listener into a world not their own, into a world of love filled with pain and deceit, a world of desire that is never fully realized but deeply yearned for.
This world could never be visualized if not for the expertise of black tape. The ability to make you slip into the fog of lonely pain and believe in it must be delicately produced by people who have deep understanding. This is the hallmark of black tape. In every one of their releases, they have given us the capability to watch the heart of love slowly freeze into an unmoving organ, barely beating...just barely beating, seeing its cracked and heavily frosted components glow with life but choked with cold death.
With each successive release by black tape, I become more and more elated by the perfection that becomes these pieces. They are vital collections in my library, like classics of old that never wear thin with time but progressingly become a life form of their own, standing out amidst all the works ever created. Black Tape is a band that demands to be heard for they have something to say that is timeless and is felt in every one whether we hear its voice or not.
I recommend not only this disc, although this disc is an absolute diamond, but the entire body of work by black tape. Many of the releases are accompanied by beautiful slip covers showcasing eerie imagery although lately, the stunningly beautiful Lisa Feuer adorns the covers. Lyrics are provided in a gracious booklet of sturdy paper unlike the usual glossy garbage we get with all other CDs that are not Projekt releases. The booklet details not only the lyrics but also performer information and more of that eerie imagery.
Thanks to black tape for a blue girl for allowing us to hear such exquisiteness and to share in the depths of their dreams and providing us opportunity to make the dreams our own.
Black Tape For A Blue Girl se vzdy vyznacovali vzbourenou citovostí prodchnutou smutkem a krásou. Nové album The Scavenger Bride je inspirováno i dílem Franze Kafky a umeleckou tvorbou Marcela Duchampa a vypráví romanticky´ príbeh vystaveny´ na citové bouri vsech svobodny´ch mládencu? hledajících svoji mystickou nevestu", jiz lépe nikdy nezahlédnout nez jen zábleskem v proudech jarního deste nebo v tajemny´ch stínech a trpytu dubnové luny. [full review at the mysteria.cz website...]
Ritorno in grande stile per la formazione di Sam Rosenthal (fondatore della Projekt Records, la prestigiosa etichetta statunitense che produce, tra gli altri, i Lycia). Ispirato dai romanzi di Kafka, lautore preferito di Rosenthal, The Scavenger Bride
è un album maestoso, capace di spaziare tra melodie classicheggianti e atmosfere gotiche, gelide brezze delettronica e sonate rinascimentali, tenero lirismo e cupo dramma. Un disco dalle tinte teatrali (stile Brecht) e dalle atmosfere eteree, che richiama alla mente le partiture più suggestive di Cocteau Twins e Dead Can Dance.
Per loccasione, i Black Tape For A Blue Girl formano una vera e propria orchestra, che annovera - oltre alle tastiere ambientali di Rosenthal - Elysabeth Grant al canto, una sezione darchi con violino, viola e violoncello, il magico flauto di Lisa Feuer (ritratta anche nella copertina del disco), dulcimer, mandolino, batteria e percussioni a cura di Michael Laird degli Unto Ashes, la voce e la chitarra di Bret Helm degli Audra, nonché i vocalizzi di Athan Maroulis di Spahn Ranch. Il risultato è un appassionato concept album dedicato a una sposa, alla sua storia, ai suoi tormenti, ai suoi passati amori. Curiosa la scelta del titolo: Scavenger è infatti un termine che deriva dallAnglo-Normanno scawager, ovvero spazzino.
Il disco è una raccolta di lieder (semi)classici, che si susseguono in un crescendo di pathos e suspence. Tra i brani, svettano la struggente cantilena di Kinski, intrepretata da unappassionata Elysabeth Grant su un vortice di suoni persi nel vuoto; la lugubre ninnananna per pianoforte di Shadow Of A Doubt; la danza suadente di All My Lovers, sorta di saltarello medievale adattato al tempo del synth ; il salmo dolente di The Scavenger Daughter; la solenne maestosità della title-track ; il cerimoniale gotico di Like A Dog, sostenuto da un muro di tastiere elettroniche. E a impreziosire lopera contribuiscono anche alcuni brevi ma suggestivi intermezzi strumentali. Un lavoro affascinante, insomma, che conferma la grande eleganza di questa sorta di piccola orchestra da camera dell ambient-gothic americano. -Claudio Fabretti
9 out of 10 ~ Neoclassical Ethereal Goth : Sam Rosenthal - heart, body, and soul of Projekt Records - returns with The Scavenger Bride, a brillant concept piece that details the story of a bride-to-be and her suitors set in 1913 Prague. Inspired by the work of Franz Kafka, each piece is meticulously crafted with the soulful chamber music provided by Rosenthal's multifaceted electronics and piano, Lisa Feuer's engaging flute, the rich strings of Vicki Richrads' violin, and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina) whose cello is deep and haunting. Add into the foreground the beauty of Elysabeth Grant's vocals and viola contributions, and you have the recipe for another enchanting and classic Black Tape for a Blue Girl album. Numerous guest vocals and instrumentations appear on The Scavenger Bride, including the talents of Michael Laird (Unto Ashes), Bret Helm (Audra), Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch), Christopher David (Judith), and Martin Bowes (Attrition). Each track can stand strongly on its own, but this is a work best taken in as a whole. Each note travels through the air gracefully and each word, whether sung by Elysabeth, whispered by Sam, or sung by one of the many guest male vocalists, floats desperately in an enchanting field of sorrow and beauty. Included in the set is a cover of Sonic Youth's "Shadow of a Doubt," an abstract piece that has been re-worked nicely to fit in with the story of the distressed bride. Overall, this album is a shining effort and well worth the wait. - Joseph Graham
Black Tape for a Blue Girl is the hallmark group in the darkwave movement and from this leadership position they present a beautiful concept album of mysterious minimalism and vocal beauty. The great vocals come from new singer Elysabeth Grant, long part of the Projekt fold. The ideas come from a fusion of the artwork of Marcel Duchamp and the writings of Franz Kafka. Besides reaching, and successfully reaching, thematically, this is the most instrumentally dense of the Black Tape for a Blue Girl albums. The substrate is still Sam Rosenthal's layered electronics and piano. Beside Grant, additional vocalists telling the tale of Prague's tragic 1914 scavenger bride include Audra's Bret Helm and Spahn Ranch's Athan Maroulis. Beside the usual flute accompaniment a mini-string section of Vicki Richards (violin), Grant (viola) and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina, cello) fleshes out the sound. The dramatic presentation mostly succeeds in this consistent album setting a new high water mark for the group. This was well worth the nearly three-year wait since their previous release. (4 of 5) - Thomas Schulte
Having established itself as a cult favorite in the ethereal gothic underground over the past 16 years, Black Tape for a Blue Girl releases its first true concept album, which tells an almost stream-of-conscious tale of a bride-to-be in 1913 Prague. Set to soaring electronics and piano, sensual and disturbing vocals from Elysabeth Grant and main lyricist/songwriter Sam Rosenthal, a string section and Lisa Feuer's whimsical flute, the story of The Scavenger Bride is equally inspired by musical genres ranging from classical to Middle Eastern to goth, as well as the writings of Franz Kafka and artwork of Marcel Duchamp. The disc also features the talents of Athan Maroulis of Spahn Ranch, former Rasputina cellist Julia Kent and Judith's Christopher David. The story is further developed in the booklet of photos, lyrics and stories that accompanies the disc. - Jonathan Williams
As with essentially every Black Tape release since their inception quite a few years ago, The Scavenger Bride is an album that I've played many times and never quite knew what to say about it. The most notable thing about Project Records' founder Sam Rosenthal's band is that they have been consistently touching, moving and beautiful throughout their entire existence and no matter who was contributing to the effort. On The Scavenger Bride, the outfit sticks to their darkwave base and simply works wonders within their forged style. Longtime vocalist Oscar Herrera is absent but Black Tape receives a little vocal assistance from various other names associated with Projekt: Audra, Attrition, Unto Ashes and others. It would seem that the focal point of the singing on The Scavenger Bride lays quite a bit on Elysabeth Grant. Throughout the album, Black Tape weaves piano, viola and electronics to create their lush sound, captivating and sobering. The thing about Black Tape's music is that you always feel as though you shouldn't quite be so gosh-darned happy about anything going on around you. The album also tends to be slightly more ambient and spacey than other releases. For anyone who has enjoyed at least one record from Black Tape in the past, The Scavenger Bride is a gimme. The outfit's consistency from album to album is marvelous and their ability to create such passionate, quietly intense music is remarkable. - John Chedsey
The Scavenger Bride is another exercise in sumptuous beauty. Ostensibly dedicated to Kafka, the album The overture is a thick slab of electronic drones and cello melodies, akin to Constance Demby's "sacred space music". Then Elysabeth Grant intones "Kinski," a sparse hymn rendered in a mix of renaissance-style cantillating and Brecht-ian ostentation. The theatrical tone returns in the sensual, piano-based lullaby "Shadow Of A Doubt," that grows into a climatic, nightmarish crescendo, and the recurrent theme of insanity reaches an apex with "The Scavenger's Daughter, "a mournful psalm set to the ticking of a piano and to a thick symphonic drone (and possibly the standout of the album). The lively "All My Lovers" rides the tempo of a medieval saltarello and displays impeccable group counterpoint. Similar classical-sounding, chamber accompaniment highlights several of the compositions. Vicki Richards' violin, Lisa Feuer's flute, Julia Kent's cello, dulcimer, mandolin and piano contribute in no small amount to the appeal of the music. Rosenthal employs a male singer to drench "A Livery Of Bachelors" in a dark, decadent, "mitteleuropean" ambience, falling halfway between Roxy Music and Pet Shop Boys. Another male singer delivers "The Lie Which Refuses To Die" in a calmer, slightly neurotic tone. "Like A Dog" is the tour de force of the album. It opens with ominous nebulae of drones and a raga-like lament by the electric violin. Electronic master Steve Roach spreads rattling noises around, while Rosenthal builds up a majestic wall of electronics. Martin Bowes' recital dusts off the stigmata of ceremonial gothic music, aptly accompanied by martial and gloomy sounds. The album ends with the solemn requiem of "Bastille Day 1961." It is sung against the backdrop of a piano humming a tender melody, worthy of a Beethoven sonata, that dissolves in aquatic reverb. Some of the brief interludes ("The Doorkeeper," "Das Liselottenbett") are worth the price alone. While on a smaller scale than ....Laid Bare By Desire, Sam Rosenthal has composed another austere and suave collection of lieder, each finely textured and magically vibrant.
It's not often you can believe record-label hype, but when the powers that be at Projekt Records call The Scavenger Bride, the eighth album by Black tape for a blue girl, "Like nothing you've ever heard before," they're probably right - even though the label's founder, Sam Rosenthal, is also the group's guiding force. Contemporary chamber music that's cinematic in scope slow dances with warm, intimate and ethereal arrangements that incorporate soundscapes ranging from middle-eastern textures to neoclassical goth. The Scavenger Bride is the 16-year-old band's first concept album, and it presents a darkly romantic tale set in 1913 Prague of a bride-to-be and her various suitors from the past. Inspired in part by the writings of Franz Kafka and the artwork of Marcel Duchamp, these songs boast such tempting titles as "all my lovers," "a livery of bachelors" and "the lie which refuses to die." Black tape for a blue girl features four women on vocals, viola, flute, cello and violin. Other instrumentation includes dulcimer and mandolin, and Bret Helm (Audra) lends his baritone to a couple tracks while Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch) spins his crooning tenor on another. Rosenthal creates all of the lush keyboard arrangements electronically, and few actual guitars and drums were used during this recording. The Scavenger Bride is an album that requires a listener's undivided attention and more than a cursory perusal of the detailed booklet that overflows with surreal imagery and an esoteric narrative. This is sensual, evocative and sad music that somehow still manages to lift the spirit. - Michael Popke
The eighth release from Projekt's premier band is a major leap forward from the heavily This Mortal Coil influence One aflame... This is a much rawer and individual release, with a much looser production, giving the music a more organic feel. This lifts the music out of a purely atmospheric sphere. The powerful 'all my lovers', with some amazing vocals from Elysabeth Grant, refuses to remain in the background and demands full attention. Their version of Sonic Youth's 'shadow of a doubt' is more in the Gitane Demone/Jarboe sphere. 'a livery of bachelors' sees Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch) continue his recent spate of leaps into unfamiliar territory, this time mixing Brendan Perry with David Bowie to nice effect on the somewhat Dead Can Dance-ish track, contrasting with his softer and more familiar vocal style on the preceding track, 'floats in the updrafts'. Audra's Bret Helm's almost growling vocals gives infectious 'the lie which refuses to die' a harsh edge that suits the morbid lyrics. Attrition's Martin Bowes pops in too provide the spoken word opening sequence of the three-part title track. That's a good start, but the track goes on to long in the final instrumental part. Bret returns for the heavily Gothic sound of 'like a dog', but the latter half of the song, 'shelter to brod', is another overlong instrumental break. The last two tracks feature the return of Elysabeth as the album fades somewhat disappointingly into the background. The black tape sound is on that's constantly evolving, still standing proud as the wind disperses from the sails of ethereal music.
A excelente produção do oitavo CD do BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL veio realçar ainda mais o potencial do grupo liderado por Sam Rosethal, responsável pela maioria dos arranjos da banda. Tendo suas raízes fixadas em estilos como Ambient e Ethereal, a banda flerta com sequências eletrônicas viariadas e com alguns elementos da música gótica. Rotular a música do grupo parece ser um tarefa difícil, principalmente se contarmos com todo a versatilidade da flautista Lisa Feuer e de Julia Kent, uma maestrina no celo. Destaque para as músicas "All My Lovers", "Shadow Of A Doubt" e "A Livery Of Bachelors", representantes fiéis do talento musical do conjunto. Um grupo recomendável para os que gostam dos estilos mencionados ou àqueles que buscam novas melodias. Pure Ambient and Ethereal sound. Listen!
A review from Splendid Zine:
Sam Rosenthal's team of gloom-miners has produced an impressive disc that also happens to be that most tormented of beasts, the concept album. Duchamp and Kafka are the album's main components, but Sonic Youth, Klaus Kinski and others get mentions, too. Slightly over-the-top? Indeed. But when you're talking about one of the longest-established goth soundtrack groups still releasing credible work today, that's pretty much par for the course. A reasonable amount of the album sounds fairly mid-Cure in its approach -- not that this is a bad thing. "A Livery Of Bachelors" is a great example: synth-heavy, vaguely Eastern melody lines and subtle percussion dominate. Occasionally-histrionic vocals aside -- and there is a fair bit of double-tracking here -- it's a curiously enfolding sound that sweeps the listener along. Indeed, tunes like "The Lie Which Refuses To Die" are at once more masterful and more affecting than anything Robert Smith has knocked out for the better part of a decade. The more classically-influenced side of the album is revealed on tracks like "Das Liselottenbett", a simple instrumental piece that brings to mind the slow, elegiac stylings of David Darling's solo cello work, or Gavin Bryars's compositions. It's here that the ensemble's strength comes through: although BTFABG have long been channeling sadness into their music, it's never more successful than when manipulated into simple, direct themes like this. There's no embellishment, no woe-is-me bullshit. There's a rawness here that overrides the echoes and waves of bass-heavy noise -- and it's highly immersive. It's still fairly dark, but there's much less pretension than expected -- another boon! BTFABG have produced what may be their strongest album. It's certainly cohesive, and though I don't think the concept behind the disc completely works, the effort involved in translating the concept to reality has come together in a delightful way. If you've ever written BTFABG off as dodgy goth soundscaping, this is the album that'll change your mind. - Luke Martin
A review from Star Vox:
What has always struck me about the work from Projekt records and specifically, from Sam Rosenthal and Lisa Feuer of black tape for a blue girl, is the amazing fullness, depth and detail of their work. The professionalism in everything that they do is evident, palatable.
I am not one for "concept" albums. It's not that I don't like them. It's just that normally, when done within the gothic genre, they are often pretentious and self-satisfying attempts at being "musicians with grand ideas" than it is with creating throughout an album a story, feelings and emotions well and beautifully. More than a normal album, a concept album is supposed to (in my opinion) transport you. Whether to another time, place, emotional place or all of the above. This is not easy.
black tape for a blue girl has done it.
This concept album, tells the dark and romantic tale of a bride-to-be and her emotional roller coaster as well as the stories of her former lovers. Set in one of the most magical cities, Prague in 1913 and inspired partly by the writings of Franz Kafka and the artwork of Marcel Duchamp, this concept album exemplifies the beauty and the tragedy of these works.
From the first strains of the scavenger bride you are being brought somewhere. Like the first strains of a magnificent opera, you are transported to another place and time where you can suspend your claim on "reality" and lose yourself in someone else's story.
The talent Sam Rosenthal has decided to put together and utilize for this project is amazing. Elysabeth Grant's voice floats and hovers and soars through the second offering of "kinski" which tells the story of a woman's unrequited love of Klaus. Softly and yet with some sort of inner pressure, you hear the pleading of the bride for Klaus to love her in return. To be part of her. In addition to the lovely voice is the added surprise and wonder of sound which comes from the playing of a dulcimer, played by Michael Laird from Unto Ashes. An underused instrument (I know of only one band, Seventh harmonic, which uses it to any extent), it gives a new edge and layer to the sound.
"all my lovers" is a gorgeous song which is deceptive in how the lyrics never, to me, specify to whom she is singing to... the lovers or the fiancé. Perhaps that is how it is to be, as the schavager tells how "she is ill-defined."
"shadow of doubt" starts with a softly pulsating electronic background and the whispering voice of Elysabeth. Completely, slowly, and deceptively engulfing you and drawing you in. A change encounter, perhaps an indiscretion on a train with a stranger. Perhaps this, the confession to her lover. In and of itself, a gorgeous offering, but since you are feeling almost safe with her whispers, the flailing of voice as she cries out that "must'a been a dream. It's just a dream I had. Swear" as she tries to deny to herself her own indiscretion. Was it a dream? Or was she unfaithful?
"the doorkeeper" is a sad tale of getting so close, knowing some one so well, yet still, still being unable to really connect. The singsong approach makes it even more tragic as it has the sound a child's song, kind of the sadder "Ring Around the Rosy" again, the haunting voice of Elysabeth gives so much to the song.
"floats in the updrafts" would serve as the song before and perhaps after the intermission. The voice of Atham Maroulis from Spahn Ranch gives us an insight into how the schavager is feeling as he reveals the story of the bride to us.
The groom to be finally emerges in "a livery of bachelors" as he tells of his feelings of emptiness(?), loss(?), confusion (?) at seeing and knowing of his beloved's former lovers. He knows how they still love and adore her, want her to remain with them, perhaps a free spirit. But there is hope in that "I still see her before me" she does not leave. She remains with him.
With no vocal within the piece itself, yet within the liner notes, "das liselottenbett" is an interesting inclusion. I am not personally a fan of pieces which give you one but yet not the other. I am not sure that this works exceptionally well. "Lyrically" it did forward the storyline and I therefore question why a melody with the lyrics was not included. The music itself is gorgeous and completely reflects the lyrics . . . so why not included?
Brett Helm of Audra has his chance at the mike with the next offering (having done backing vocals on earlier songs). And I must say that it is the only vocal wrongly cast. This piece would have been perfect for one person on the Projekt label and would have been such a challenge and a refreshing surprise. Voltaire. The lyrics are so perfect for him:
I'm the one who made them this way. I'm the one the caused all of this to happen to them. I'm the one who's rightly to blame for everything.
But as he would have had to deliver this in such a different style, not the sarcastic, ironic style to which we are all accustomed to and some of us love, I think it would have been amazing to hear him actually attempt this very serious and emotional offering. Brett Helm's voice, although quality, somehow was not up to the challenge of the emotional lyrics.
It is after this song which has one of the most powerful and, in so many ways, timeless pieces of poetry/prose which is scattered throughout the liner notes. I say timeless in that in 1913 Prague, a woman purposely loses herself to please the man in her life. She changes, shifts, remoulds, represses and recreates to keep that which she must have satisfied. This, as we all know, happens to this very second, let alone day. And so eloquently expressed. It is a slice from within someone's diary, journal, played out for us.
One of the many pieces interspersed throughout the liner notes, these are perhaps the "scenes" for the actors if this concept album were to ever be a live performance. And it is within these that the listener (or is it reader? or is it audience?) gets more detail into the story line. The jealousy of the groom. The sheer insecurity and fear of them both. These pieces, as most stories do, begin wonderfully, all perfect and filled with joy and love, as the bride speaks of her unending, complete and total love for her groom, her intended, but as the songs continue, as the prose continues, the cracks in their relationship begin to become evident. His jealousy at her past in "your jealousy is slavery" clearly expresses his insecurity at a woman, his woman, having a past, a world that existed before him which not only did he not take part in, but cannot approve of. And in "my controlling angel", the bride tries so valiantly to explain that she is not the crippled woman which he first met and saved, but has grown, healed and now, needs him to accept that. It is obvious from what they both say that he is one who cannot handle a woman who is independent and has her own thought and strength, what I would assume was the general idea and practice in 1913 Prague. Well, 1913 anywhere. Perhaps 2002 as well.
And we realize through "the little monkeys" that she trapped and that for all her strength and intelligence, she is trapped and cannot escape from the world that she is part of. From his world. Oh, how masterfully Sam Rosenthal and Lisa Feuer have crafted this. I have an entire production in my head, I have details of why she cannot leave, what are the ties and bondage that keeps her within. Although I know that I should be thinking Kafka, I get feelings of Miss Julie in Strindberg's play of the same name. Caught in the birdcage, unable to leave.
"nothing I can say" is the second last of prose pieces within the liner notes and it is the most, as earlier written, poignant, as it truly expresses that which the bride has decided to subject herself to.
Returning to the music, "the scavenger's daughter" puzzles me as I try to figure out who is being referred to. As we are later asked by the schavager why this is the story of the scavenger bride and not the scavenger's bride, I take the leap of faith that the bride and this daughter are one in the same. She is not marrying the scavenger, for that is not how the groom's character feels to me. But perhaps she is of a scavenger and therefore that is all that she knows to scavenge for life and existence and perhaps, even, happiness. What also points me to this being about the bride is the lyrics so gracefully presented by Elysabeth, "from everything comes something, I can dissolve, reform, return, dissolve, redefine, return." This continual redefining of oneself seems like a pivotal part of the character of the bride. She recreates herself within the environment to survive within it.
There is something unnerving about "like a dog/letter to brod." Something sinister and dangerous. It is as if we are seeing into some depth of soul that is tortured beyond that which we can easily understand. Is this part 2 from one of the lovers that bride leaves behind? Is he tortured by the fact that he will never possess her but can be confined by her, controlled by her. Is this some masochism? And as it continues to unnerve musically, lyrically, we are sent to question again all that we have come to understand. Is the bride just a metaphor for something more? If there is a bride, why do we presume there be but one groom? Is there just "the one" that we are destined to be with? And in thinking that, do we set ourselves up to be victims of an elaborate and unconscious trap?
"the whipper" solidifies the questions of whether there is a fetish edge to some of the former "crimes" of the bride that the groom cannot forgive, as she goes into the clerk's desk to find two of her former lovers being whipped. There she says her goodbyes. Has the bride accepted her fate?
And we close musically with "bastille day 1961" and as the bride dies we are left to wonder whether she accepted the marriage or, is leaving a world that she made what must have been a spectacular decision and lived as she wanted. Does she have regrets? Some. But I sense from the beauty of Elysabeth's voice (yes, I love this woman's voice) that she was happy in the end. And that whomever she decided to be with, she loved wholly and fully and completely.
Our last prose offering is that of the schavager, with his captive audience, leaving them with questioning what exactly the bride was and is, as she herself did as she reinvented herself according to the experiences around her. Tragically, she never does find that which is her true self, as perhaps one can't if continually changing.
There is no doubt that what Sam Rosenthal and Lisa Feuer have created is nothing short of a masterpiece in music, song and drama. This album takes you into a world and gives you the tools and materials to create Prague 1913, with full characters and storyline. As someone who spent too many years getting her degree in drama, I have completely staged this in my mind, the costumes, including the richness of the bride's blue dress... midnight blue. Lighting which spotlights different parts of the stage for each song or piece of prose. "bastille day 1961" I especially have lit. A brass four poster bed, A stand-in for the bride in the bed, her hand being held, and yet, because of the dim lighting, we do not know who it is being held by, leaving the audience wondering and questioning as they leave the theatre.
And of course, unsurprisingly, the quality of production, musically and concerning liner notes, packaging, is right spot on the money. Nothing, nothing is left to chance. Nothing is done halfway. You get the feeling that if Sam couldn't do this completely how he wanted it, he wouldn't have. 100% of his vision went into this production, and we get every last drop of it.
I would love to see this actually produced, actually staged so that they beauty and subtlety of the music, lyrics and prose can be brought to life and enrapture an audience in yet another way.
As I stated earlier, concept albums I am not a fan of. They are difficult mountains to climb and most who attempt it either don't bring enough equipment as they feel they are almost too good for the mountain, or bring too much, daunted by the sheer magnitude of the mountain. Black tape for blue girl has done neither. They climbed the mountain with respect for the beauty of it and with the right equipment.
Black tape for a blue girl has forged, yet again, new ground, and definitely have broken through and evolved. I don't think anyone else can or should attempt what they have, but need to learn from this CD (and the band as a whole) about true mastery of lyric, music and character. - Jezebel
A review from The Campus Voice, at Westfield State College:
While any album from Sam Rosenthal's Black Tape For a Blue Girl stands as an intense singular entity from start to finish, this year's the scavenger bride is the first written to tell a literal story. Rosenthal executes his opera with refined delicateness. It is set in 1913 Prague, telling of the Schavager (a street sweeper), observing other residents that he is estranged from, a polyamorous woman and many suitors who desire her (each of whom she exhausts, as an exercise in growing closer to the truth). Besides the lyrics, Sam delineates the story through digitally edited photography (subdued imagery that captures the tone of the album perfectly) and lovely fragments of narration, both featured in the accompanying booklet. Besides guest musicians, Sam's ensemble players are his wife, Lisa Feuer (flute), Julia Kent (cello), Vicki Richards (violin), and Elysabeth Grant (vocals, new to Black Tape recordings). For the first time on a Black Tape album, completely absent are the powerful, belting operatic vocals of Oscar Herrera, now too involved with his own project. As with any Black Tape album, Sam is credited with performing "electronics." While this implies techno or industrial, he actually creates strongly resonant symphonic palettes of interweaving sustained tones played on fuzzy, primitive keyboard settings (this is his trademark sound). On this album's ambient-neoclassical tracks, he effectively integrates additional layers of processed violin. "Kinski" finds Elysabeth's anguished voice wavering amongst the churning vacuum of sound. "All My Lovers" is absolutely irresistible. Snaky flute and vocal melodies are applied to an entrancing groove devised by Michael Laird (of Unto Ashes), via an Eastern-flavored rhythm section of mandolin and percussion. This is followed by a cover of Sonic Youth's "Shadow of a Doubt," very appropriately adapted by Sam in correspondence with the album's themes. It closely follows but is more subtly dynamic than the original. Rather than guitar, he arranged it on piano to match the album's hazy melancholy, complemented by nervously impending percussion. Rather than merely singing, Elysabeth's voice becomes the song's frantic emotion. In the middle of the album, the story unfolds through a theatrical sequence of brief, endearing pieces Sam strived to render "absurdist." Often built upon his piano work, each is melodically delivered from the viewpoint of either the bride, one of her suitors, or the Schavager. Standing out the most of these is the completely enrapturing "The Lie That Refuses to Die," richly sung by Bret Helm (of Audra). Deep within the album, it peaks with a pair of epic several-minute songs, "The Scavenger's Daughter" and "Like a Dog/Letter to Broad," each divided into three movements. The former is a euphoric, gently flowing wall of somberly rich harmony, with unexpected but quiet transitions. The latter is the dark, scathing, gut-wrenching song that's a staple component to most Black Tape albums. Prolific ambient composer Steve Roach assisted with its sound processing. The first movement features a bleeding, off-center violin solo from Richards. Added to the backdrop of Sam's menacing drone for the second movement are high-pitched wailing metallic noises, snarling and hissing sounds, and sporadic percussion samples played by Michael Laird. Bret performs intoxicating vocal work that evokes the impression of a defeated, broken, and subsequently hardened man. The lingering drones left in the aftermath give way to the final movement, a harsh, muffled piano piece. It is a completely staggering work. After sixteen years as the mastermind behind Black Tape For a Blue Girl, Sam Rosenthal is, if anything, even more gifted at creating passionate, beautiful, vital art. - Ryan Wynns
A review from The Glass Eye:
The always enigmatic and beautiful Black Tape For A Blue Girl -- featuring sublime Sam Rosenthal along with the talents of Lisa Feuer (flute), Elysabeth Grant (vocals & viola), Julia Kent (cello), and Vicki Richards (violin) -- have created one of its strongest releases to date. The Scavenger Bride is a story influenced by the writings of Franz Kafka and the painting of Marcel Duchamp, all woven together in a tapestry of sound. Set in Prague in 1913, telling the dark story of a bride-to-be, the bachelors who have lost her, and her emotional breakdown and rebirth. I've given this disc quite a few listens and it continues to grow on me! Sam's sincere, heartfelt music and lyrics pour forth, covering the room. Though all the tracks work together like a good book, there are choice parts -- the angelic "Kinski," the ethereal "Das Liselottenbett," the eerie "Like A Dog/Letter To Brod," and the unrequited love of "Bastille Day, 1961." The Scavenger Bride seems best appreciated by oneself, late, and in the dark, when you can immerse yourself in its waters -- it most certainly isn't background music. - Patric!
A review from The Guardian Newspaper (England):
Imagine walking through a foreign city in a twilight world between sleep and wakefulness, writes Stuart Moses. That's the feeling I get from this latest album by New York-based Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Each of these songs could be half-witnessed episodes in the lives of the people you pass on the street. It's cinematic in scope, though these films are more likely to be art-house productions than Hollywood blockbusters. The narrative is told in fragments and will take time to understand fully, yet in each take the scenery is beautifully realized. If you listen closely then you will discover that The Scavenger Bride is the story of a bride-to-be's decomposition, together with accounts of the bachelors who have wooed and lost her. Inspired by Kafka and Marcel Duchamp it is easy to imagine walking past an open window in 1910s Prague and hearing songs like the piano-led 'The Doorkeeper' playing inside. The layered electronics and piano mix with strings and flutes to be as hallucinatory as absinthe. While the subject matter and influences suggest that this might make for depressing listening that is certainly not the case. There are certainly more suitable situations to best appreciate this work of art, such as by candlelight and under the influence of red wine, but the intoxicating blend of male and female vocals means that the music should be accessible to all. Rating: 5/5
A review from The Sentimentalist Magazine:
Ornate, daring art rock opus Art and music are skillfully brought together in this ornately produced, daring epic, the eighth release for Black Tape. Composer/keyboardist Sam Rosenthal has teamed up his core musicians Lisa Feuer (flute) and Elysabeth Grant (vocals) with cellist Julia Kent and violinist Vicki Richards, while also adding a variety of guest musicians and vocalists for a unique foray into neo-classical, ambient art "rock." This is a stellar, ambitious project that traverses the highs and lows of one brideâs emotions, all "narrated" by an insightful, mysterious onlooker known as the "scavager." We listen along as the bride seems set for a breakdown in tracks such as "Your Jealousy is Slavery," and then goes on to "repair" herself within the comfort of her thoughts. The tales of those around her also come into play--the bachelorsâ own accounts of knowing the young woman circling around these songs like prey. The hypnotic, lullaby effects of tracks like "A Livery of Bachelors" and the cover of Sonic Youth's "Shadow of a Doubt" are incredibly compelling. Though there is a lot to immerse yourself in between concept, imagery and emotional approach, the music itself is the most potent part, with or without knowledge of the work within its full context. Beautifully done. -MVW
It is fair to say that most fans of Black Tape for a Blue Girl (Black Tape) know what to expect in picking up the latest release. Sam Rosenthal, the focal point of any and all things Black Tape, and indeed of the Projekt label itself, consistently crafts the sound of each new disc, building on past successes, and adding a few new elements. There is a comforting sameness each time but enough fresh perspective and artistry to make each excursion into the darkwave arena a bit different. For the uninitiated, the sound of the band is more akin to symphonic neo-classical than rock or alternative and is often miscast as gothic. Melodies intertwine beneath, above, and within each other from cello, mandolin, wind instruments, and other organic elements. These mix at times with electronics and percussion without ever losing the depth of the orchestral sound. The vocals - both male and female - likewise are intended to beautify rather than blast the listener.
Although the album is something of a continuation of the stylings of 1999's As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire, there are pleasant differences to note. In particular, varied tempos and the use of percussive elements are more prevalent, as are departures from the lilting and ethereal vocals. "All My Lovers" in particular could be called a medieval pop song complete with standard verse-chorus elements and hooks. Likewise, the light percussion and whispered vocals on "Shadow of a Doubt" morph to a thundering beat and screams of "It must have been a dream!", providing contrast and tension between the songs. The melding of synth and instruments in "A Livery of Bachelors" with the strong male lead vocals make comparisons to Dead Can Dance's finer moments a given, but the very next track ("Das Liselottenbett") plunges into a dark instrumental filled with flute and an atmospheric dirge. The variation between the tracks is the true differentiator from past Black Tape releases.
The lyrical content is quite poetic in nature, befitting the music.Ê The album as a whole is something new for Black Tape in that it is actually one cohesive story throughout. The basic storyline involves the many suitors to a potential bride, as told by a storyteller to a group of listeners. While certainly sensual, as well as dark at times, there is little that could be considered patently offensive. There is a sense of spirituality conveyed but really only a sense and nothing too overt. Rosenthal continues to maintain that he has no spiritual or philosophical agenda that he wishes to put forth. One can easily imagine why it took three years to craft this album. Each track stands on its own as a thing of dark beauty and taken as a whole these tracks support each other perfectly. The variation makes this a much easier listen in one sitting than past Black Tape albums. Black Tape has refined to the point of near-perfection in its genre. - Jeff Edwards
A review from Woman Rock:
Black Tape for a Blue Girl is the hallmark group in the darkwave movement and from this leadership position they present a beautiful concept album of mysterious minimalism and vocal beauty. The great vocals come from new singer Elysabeth Grant, long part of the Projekt fold. The ideas come from a fusion of the artwork of Marcel Duchamp and the writings of Franz Kafka. Besides reaching, and successfully reaching, thematically, this is the most instrumentally dense of the Black Tape for a Blue Girl albums. The substrate is still Sam Rosenthal's layered electronics and piano. Beside Grant, additional vocalists telling the tale of Prague's tragic 1913 scavenger bride include Audra's Bret Helm and Spahn Ranch's Athan Maroul. Beside the usual flute accompaniment a mini-string section of Vicki Richards (violin), Grant (viola) and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina, cello) fleshes out the sound. The dramatic presentation mostly succeeds in this consistent album setting a new high water mark for the group. This was well worth the nearly three-year wait since their previous release. Rating: 4/5