Regular Price: $16.98
Online Sale Price! $5.00
side project: As Lonely As Dave Bowman: POD ~ SALE $5
All My Faith Lost...
The Hours (reprint)
Anthology Archive (Nicki Jaine & Sam Rosenthal) ~ SALE $5
black tape for a blue girl
HALO STAR spaghetti strap T-Shirt ~ $5 SALE (#8)
Rye (an erotic novel)
"HALO STAR is brilliant! Bret Helm's vocals are mesmerizing, pulling me in with every delicious note. This is what I have been waiting to hear from Black Tape all along, I just never knew it until now." - Gothic Beauty Magazine
Black tape for a blue girl is back with HALO STAR, their stunning 9th album. At once a departure and a return, HALO STAR's twelve stark songs take a melodic route while the rhythm hammers in dangerous nails. Songwriter/lyricist Sam Rosenthal meshes driving, male goth vocal-stylings with heavenly female voices and forceful percussion and acoustic guitar to create an involving album both rhythmic and lyrically engaging. In this, one of America's originators in the darkwave genre returns to its origins while creating an amazing new album sure to please fans old and new alike.
well halo come down from the stage - fell down - he slumps into somebody’s arms wounds torn open, desire exposed. we grab for a piece of his soul. “i have been broken, divided, annihilated.” a thousand dreams left in bloody heaps. halo at the center, shouting and whispering truth...
Vocalist Bret Helm is here to bring Sam’s vision to life; Elysabeth Grant’s sensual vocals spotlight a quarter of HALO STAR’s tracks. Multi-instrumentalist Michael Laird provides acoustic guitar, percussion and dulcimer; Bret plays guitar and bass. Also featured are Lisa Feuer on flute and Vicki Richards on violin. Sam contributes the electronics, faux piano, and even has a Moog solo!
“Our live audience really responded to the percussion and guitar we incorporated into our shows over the last couple of years,” Sam points out. “I asked Michael and Bret to get more involved in the recording, because I wanted to play to that strength. This is an album that sounds like a ‘band’ - a concept that might surprise some, coming from black tape for a blue girl. I reduced my keyboard parts to the fundamentals on many songs, which better allows you to hear what the others are playing!”
Black tape for a blue girl has always pushed the boundaries, exploring new sounds and moods within the Darkwave genre. With HALO STAR, they appear in a new form that's unnervingly familiar.
Packaged in a jewel box with extensive 20 page booklet.
Now with 12 new tracks that venture further into the gothic realms featuring the best mix of violin, percussion, cello and combination of male and female vocals. Brett Helm (from Audra) continues to be Sam's primary male vocalist for the second album in a row. Elysabeth Grant contributes her spell-binding angelic vocals again on several tracks. Michael Laird (from Unto Ashes) presents us with his talents on many tracks including percussion and guitar. Lisa Feuer plays the flute on several songs and Vicki Richards continues to carve out beautiful masterpieces on her violin. For long-time fans, this becomes another great chapter in the history of Black Tape for a Blue Girl. The music and style remain pretty much the same in many ways, but in others Sam is exploring new ground and going back to the days of "Across a Thousand Blades" with up-tempo tracks like the first single "Tarnished". This could possibly become a great club track similar to the famous "Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" by Dead Can Dance.
Overall the flow of the album is quite standard and enjoyable, influenced by Sam's upcoming book, there is a thematic element much like the previous album The Scavenger Bride. But as I listen sometimes I long for the long and flowing songs of the era of Remnants of a Deeper Purity and A Chaos of Desire. The long melodic and droning songs (sometimes up to 20 minutes) could often send me into a dream-like state the entire duration. But this feeling isn't lost on many, though shorter songs like "Damn Swan", "Already Forgotten" and others where Elysabeth takes the lead on the vocals and Lisa or Vicki play their haunting instruments. There is also quite a bit of variety we really haven't heard from this group. A creative and somber example is "The Grave Diggers" which sounds like something right out of an Edgar Allen Poe book with the slightly morbid message in short-story form. Another fun treat is the slightly jazzy sound of "Knock Three Times" with nice tongue-in-cheak lyrics like "knock three times on your coffin if you want my love, twice on the pipe if the answer, answer is no".
These combinations of creativity and a bit of fun is a great addition to this album. Fans of the great ethereal gothic music are going to love this album's somber moods and spellbinding music. Sam and his accomplices have managed to pull it off again with great style. Rating: 4.5/5
Cornerstone Sam Rosenthal's trademark analog synth tinkering is still a fundamental element but often plays a secondary role to acoustic rhythm guitar rather than providing a musical foundation or framework. While female vocals, which were featured prominently on other recent releases, are still present, Halo Star sort of tips the scales and places more emphasis on male vocals courtesy of Audra's Brett Helm. The occasional tribal/traditional percussion is a nice addition to the band's sound. Other familiar elements can be found to varying degrees, including the occasional flute or string lead, but the band's overall sonic formula has sort of been reworked into something that both recalls the band's early albums and, at times, takes things in a new direction altogether.
The decidedly eastern vibe, snaking string lead, and prominent percussion of "Tarnished" (as well as it's short intro, "Glow") make it an immediate standout that proves to be one of the album's best tracks, albeit not a particularly good example of the album's overall sound. "The Gravedigger" slightly veers into Nick Cave or even Bowie territory for a killer acoustic rhythm guitar and vocal ballad with nice flute and percussion accents. "Scarecrow," another of the disc's standouts, wraps a similar formula inside a far more layered rhythmic acoustic rock shell accented by fairly powerful synth sections that grow in volume and intensity as the song progresses. The largely synth-based "Indefinable, yet" (boasting some of the best flute melodies ever to grace a Black Tape album), "Already Forgotten," "Dagger," and "Halo Star" are perhaps the most akin to the band's output over the last decade or so. On the other side of the spectrum, the whimsical "Knock Three Times" is, as far as I can recall, unlike anything Rosenthal has ever done, with a sonic vibe reminiscent of The Cure's "The Lovecats" and (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek goth lyrics that could have easily been penned by Voltaire. The other songs on the album fall somewhere in between and do little to detract from what is an exceptionally solid set.
While it's often a departure from the fairly consistent introspective, intimate side Rosenthal and company have explored throughout the last 15 or 20 years, Halo Star showcases an interesting and ultimately successful sonic evolution. It's an album that's both more stylistically diverse and more accessible than much of their recent catalog but still retains enough "classic Black Tape" material to please fans of their more ethereal side. Whether you're a long-time fan or a curious newcomer, you'll find a solid album that is arguably one of the most interesting offerings the band has released to date. - Joshua Heinrich
Halo Star is unusual. Within this album are fragments of a story, of a fallen rock icon, Halo Star, but it isn't a complete story like The Scavenger Bride, so don't think it's a some concept album. It's certain songs, within the album, which ensures a sense of intrigue remains, but also providing solid lyrical backbone.
Admittedly, reviewing Black Tape feels like sitting an exam, in case you miss something, but this record is weird, while also being quite natural. It's not a long album, but it has extremes; rhythm, even! After the closed, almost secretive nature of the label in its dusty past, the recent work of people like Voltaire, Unto Ashes and Audra has broadened the appeal of Projekt and Black Tape - Sam's world - and breathed life into it all.
"Glow" is a merest of instrumental twinges, but "Tarnished" introduces immediacy, before the mood deepens as Halo appears; a wispy, ragged creature, identity almost hovered up by onlookers, in a track where percussion bubbles, strings seethe, and Bret from Audra oversees it all very well indeed. There is mastery in his voice. "The Gravediggers" has guitar gloom and something ominous hangs in the air, with seriously creepy imagery, as the gravediggers lick their lips and discreetly look the way of our alarmed protagonist. There's a timeless feel to it.
"Your Love Is Sweeter Than Wine" adds contrast, being a heavenly slice of optimism, with Elysabeth Grant on top form, and you'd expect darkness to open its huge mouth directly afterwards, but "Indefinable, Yet" doesn't do that. Drowsy and slow, with more moving vocals, you also get vibrating flute, and the stirrings of luminous guitar. "Knock Three Times" should hit hard with some Goths, as it plays with a stereotype, and hints at the biter bit, but who would have expected a catchy chorus! Then the percussive resonance of "Scarecrow' finds the vacant Halo contemplating his navel as sounds buzz around him.
"Damn Swan!" is morose as suicidal images seem to nestle softly amidst defeatism as someone searches for full-on inspiration, with more dreamlike beauty. "Already Forgotten' is very bare with strings and synth enveloping the misery on offer, and seems to be the most personalised and touching number, and like "The Fourth Footstep" there is a sense of drifting as both numbers seem extended without developing, the latter deathly mist. "Dagger" grows stronger as it becomes darker, with deep vocals speaking of betrayal and deep disappointment, as death seems inevitable, and finally "Halo Star" is slow and sad, with trickling piano.
Was it all resolved? Not to me, but that isn't the point. I assumed it wouldn't end well, and it doesn't matter to what degree, because Halo Star isn't a detailed figure in any of this.
It would have been senseless for Sam to try and better what he achieved with The Scavenger Bride, or even replicate it. Stepping to one side and stripping down the mental engine before constructing a more aerodynamic vehicle has seen him rival it in terms of quality.
The mission ahead of him next time is to top it all. I wish him luck.
Halo Star is a collection of inspired songs that immediately becomes the molten core of their history. They have never before combined the elements of aggressive rock with their compelling philosophic excursions into broken souls and ruined life upon beds of neo-classicism. The new blend is exhilarating. The resulting experience is anger, tenderness, hatred, and lost resolve formulating into a series of expressive notes that wrap around you like a blanket. Black Tape for a Blue Girl's is a unique creation with its merge of darkwave and hard-edged rock, using highly communicative middle-eastern tonalities and other methods to construct elements of emotion that makes your next trip into the universe of black tape one of insight and awe. Whether that insight is full of pain, rejection, sadness, or anger, it's deeply felt and expertly communicated.
The album jumps at you with the engaging, rhythmic "Glow" which employs a heavy percussive effect with disturbing Middle Eastern music pulsing through its too short expanse. But it opens the gates with a nod to something different, something far more impacting than prior Black Tape for a Blue Girl albums. What this album does is reshape the body of this band into something more completely evolved. Rosenthal's vision for the band has taken it into a place unvisited; a primal place where you part a veil to reveal a dark core of energy. This energy produces a BtfaBG album unlike anything you have yet heard from them to date. What is retained is Rosenthal's deep lyrical ability to unearth and disclose the monsters buried within all of us. With openers like "Glow" and the anxious "Tarnished," Halo Star offers itself as an album of change.
"The Gravediggers" is an acoustically delivered tune that adds to the presentation of the overall work while not overshadowing the voice of the story. With Feuer's rain-smooth flute, "The Gravediggers" uses death and burial as a metaphor for the cold fear of eventual failure. "Your Love is Sweeter than Wine" is familiar BTfaBG legacy yet providing a rhythmic undercurrent that effectively carries the song along.
Halo Star has many styles blended into this album. There is humour as heard in their gothic satire of Tony Orlando & Dawn's "Knock Three Times" in Rosenthal's own "knock three time"; a styled tune in "Scarecrow" that precedes the gorgeous "Damn Swan!"" which uses parts of Yeats' Leda and the Swan as lyric.Â With the emotional draw of Richards' violin, the spiritually drenched flute of Lisa Feuer, Michael Laird's acoustic guitar and percussion, along with the gothic tinges of Bret Helm and Elysabeth Grant's unmatched vocals, and Sam Rosenthal's structure and sense of adventure, all of Halo Star is an album that demands attention.
Halo Star is something different yet remarkably reminiscent. Rosenthal has re-created Black Tape for a Blue Girl by writing a series of songs that are steeped in legacy yet ascending to a new plane of art. It's made all the more amazing because we know BTfaBG to be something more to the world of music by their qualitative reverence to their musical approach. Never afraid to be different, Rosenthal has taken Black Tape for a Blue Girl to the next level. You will be absorbed by this new and important release.
Bene, dopo questa lunga premessa, rimangiamoci tutto: Halo Star, il nono album uscito a nome Black Tape, è l'album di un gruppo. Sam Rosenthal si fa da parte come mai prima d'ora, lasciando la scena non a dei "comprimari" chiamati ad aiutarlo per l'occasione, ma a una "band" vera e propria, composta da Bret Helm (cantante degli Audra, discreto gruppo dark-wave della Projekt) alla voce e alla chitarra e Michael Laird (mente di uno dei più interessanti gruppi Projekt, gli Unto Ashes) alle percussioni, liberi di dare vita alle sue composizioni secondo i loro personali stili.
Entrambi, peraltro, già figuravano sul precedente album di Black Tape, quello che ha inaugurato il nuovo corso (il meraviglioso The Scavenger Bride del 2002), e Rosenthal in pratica non fa altro che ampliare quelle che erano le loro parti su quel disco. Riducendo così lo spessore degli arrangiamenti, che da densi, pastosi e sinfonici che erano si fanno ora più semplici e prevalentemente acustici. La creatura di Rosenthal, insomma cambia pelle, e questo Halo Star è anche e soprattutto per questo motivo un disco a cui è difficile abituarsi, specie se si è un fan della prima ora.
L'apertura dell'album, inoltre, non è certo tra le più incisive e affascinanti - almeno per lo standard di Rosenthal - con l'intro orientaleggiante e percussiva di "Glow" e il singolo "Tarnished", gradevole, energico, ma in sostanza piuttosto debole. Da qui, però, si fanno strada lentamente canzoni tenui, sfocate e malinconiche come la bellissima "The Gravediggers" e "Indefinable, Yet" che torna alle atmosfere sensuali ed eteree del precedente disco (alla voce c'è proprio la protagonista di quel recital a più voci che era The Scavenger Bride, l'ottima Elysabeth Grant). "Knock Three Times" si staglia come uno dei momenti migliori dell'album: scarna, ipnotica, misteriosa, scandita da rintocchi di pianoforte che in sottofondo sembra piangere silenziosamente, e cesellata magnificamente dalla voce di Helm, perfettamente a suo agio in uno scenario tanto sottilmente sinistro.
Il secondo singolo "Scarecrow" è una splendida ballata che costituisce il climax drammatico del disco (e contiene anche il verso che al disco dà il titolo). Due romantiche e tristissime arie come "Damn Swan!" e la magica "Already Forgotten" - entrambe interpretate da Elysabeth Grant - hanno il compito di dilatare ulteriormente le atmosfere, e la seconda raggiunge quasi la stasi più assoluta. E che dire di "The Fourth Footstep", una lunga fiaba visionaria che lascia a bocca aperta, ultima boccata d'ossigeno prima che "Dagger" e la title track chiudano il disco su note sempre più cupe, soffocanti e silenziose.
Halo Star è un disco che, come sempre, contiene vette di puro incanto. Solo che Rosenthal stavolta sparge e nasconde le sue gemme in una struttura sfilacciata e irrisolta, a differenza che nel precedente album, dove tutto era invece perfettamente scorrevole, calcolato e rifinito al millimetro. E dove The Scavenger Bride era ricco e maestoso anche nei suoi momenti più intimisti, Halo Star è invece ridotto all'essenziale, dimesso, quasi indolente, anche nei suoi momenti più intensi.
Halo Star è un'opera sfuggente come poche altre; chiuso in sé stesso e nella sua fragilità, è un disco che richiede un ascolto attento e paziente, che permetta di cogliere il cuore pulsante di vita, di bellezza e di emozione che anima le sue composizioni, che si agita sotto la sua superficie solo apparentemente spoglia e raggelata. -Mauro Roma
What is different this time around? Audra's Bret Helm has a much more significant role than he did on the previous album, The Scavenger Bride. As a result, Elysabeth Grant has stepped back to allow Helm's voice to shine. Indeed, the two vocalists provide an excellent contrast to each other, with Grant's sensuous vocals complementing Helm's Peter Murphy-esque baritone (especially pleasant to hear on "Indefinable, Yet"). Also different is an abundance of acoustic guitar and tribal, almost Middle-Eastern percussion a la Michael Laird of Unto Ashes. From the short instrumental opener "Glow" to the urgent and almost painful "Tarnished" and "Scarecrow," Laird's guitar and percussion provide an eerie and ethnic atmosphere that makes Halo Star sound like a gothic harem. Rosenthal's electronics are minimal as always, atmospheric and ambient, but also adding to the Middle-Eastern flavor with an electric violin sound on "Glow" and "Dagger" that is reminiscent of Shankar's double-violin (you might've heard him on Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack for Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ). Always present is Lisa Feuer as the cover model and flutist; once again reminding people that she is the face of Black Tape. Also returning is Vicki Richards on violin. Her presence on "The Fourth Footstep" and "Dagger" do allow these songs to sound like something off Remnants of a Deeper Purity; that is not to say her playing is not welcome or beautiful to hear, just adding to the consensus that Black Tape are not above repeating themselves.
Halo Star, with the presence of Laird and Helm, does retain its own flavor, separate from past Black Tape albums. Yet, the sound is instantly recognizable and formulaic. There is no distinctive verse-chorus arrangement at work, as there never has been with Black Tape. There is classical warmth created by the juxtaposition of Rosenthal's electronics and Feuer's flute and Richards' violin. Halo Staris a pleasant listen, as much beautiful as it is sad. - Ilker81x