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black tape for a blue girl: HALO STAR (CD)

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the 2015 return of Black Tape For A Blue Girl

  1. Glow
  2. Tarnished | 45 Second MP3
  3. the Gravediggers
  4. Your love is sweeter than wine
  5. Indefinable, yet | 45 second MP3 |
  6. Knock three times | 45 second MP3 |
  7. Scarecrow | 45 second MP3 |
  8. Damn swan! | 45 Second MP3
  9. Already forgotten
  10. the Fourth footstep
  11. Dagger
  12. Halo star | 45 second MP3 |

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< 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.

Weight .3 lbs
Label

Projekt

Release Year

2004

Format

CD in jewel box with extensive 20 page booklet.

Reviews

  1. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From San Francisco Weekly

    Out of the Shadows | Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s funereal rock. If you do exceptionally large loads of darks at the laundromat, have a case full of Bauhaus and London After Midnight CDs, and generally hold an affinity for all that is gloomy, it’s no news to you that Black Tape for a Blue Girl is back again. The doleful sound that set the mold for various artists on the dark-wave label Projekt Records in the ’80s (founded by Black Tape composer/keyboardist Sam Rosenthal) is still built around keening keyboards, mournful lyrics about doomed love, and ethereal vocals from Elysabeth Grant and Bret Helm. But thanks to the band’s new affection for acoustic guitar and orchestral instrumentation, what could have sounded irredeemably past-it is fresh enough for a new generation of fans. Nicki Jaine and Drop Black Sky. Tuesday Sept 14th -Joyce Slaton

  2. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From ReGen

    Black Tape For a Blue Girl is not so much a band but rather a musical collective, not unlike KMFDM or Pigface in the industrial scene. Like those bands, there is a ringleader, a visionary guide who acts as a conduit or catalyst for these various musicians to come together and make something outside of their individual projects; in this case, that ringleader is Sam Rosenthal. Like any collective, such a variety of people can bring about a variety in the music, culminating in a sound that is as diverse as it is unified. There are different genres and different styles at work, but they all come together to form a single group sound that is identifiable and unique.

    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 Star is a pleasant listen, as much beautiful as it is sad. – Ilker81x

  3. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Ondarock

    Parlando dei Black Tape For A Blue Girl è sempre bene chiarire un punto fondamentale: che, cioè, non si sta parlando di un “gruppo”, quanto piuttosto del vero e proprio centro attorno a cui orbita una intera scena musicale, un progetto aperto in cui Sam Rosenthal, tastierista e songwriter (e orgoglioso “non musicista”, secondo l’espressione coniata da Brian Eno), si circonda di talenti per la gran parte provenienti dalla pregiata scuderia della Projekt Records, l’etichetta discografica da lui stesso fondata nel lontano 1983 e diventata il centro della odierna scena “gothic” americana. Alcuni l’hanno accompagnato per anni (come il cantante Oscar Herrera, che dal 1986 al 1999 è stato il cantante principale del progetto e alla cui voce è legato molto dell’immaginario “Black Tape”), altri hanno fatto solo brevi comparsate, ma la sostanza non cambia: Black Tape For A Blue Girl non è mai stato un “gruppo”, è stato un palcoscenico su cui diversi attori si sono dati il cambio, sempre agli ordini di Rosenthal, autore e regista indiscusso.

    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

  4. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Music TAP

    | 4 out of 5 Stars | When planets align, extraordinary things happen; there is focus on the future, the past, and the immensity of the power and beauty of such an occurrence. We talk about it before it comes into being and remember it long after it has passed. Such is the case with Halo Star, Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s latest entry into their already incredible catalog. Halo Star is the band’s ascendant star in their 9-album universe with a stunning focus on their career both past and present while leading into the future. And with good reason.

    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. 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.

  5. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Mick Mercer

    So here we are again, with the latest step in Sam Rosenthal’s evolution, from purveyor of cloudy emotion and smeared, dense moods, to the absorbing and malignant drama of The Scavenger Bride, now going further still in creating music which is noticeably more open. This is an album which could even see indie fans easily attracted to what once seemed ‘difficult’ music. Flanked with his usual stalwart suspects this is also fast becoming a Goth Super-ensemble.

    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.

  6. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Losing Today

    “Glow” the percussion heavy opening track on Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s latest release Halo Star teases the listener with just over a minute of musical foreshadowing. Although there are no discernable lyrics in this brief yet, potent instrumental offering, the liner notes reveal a parenthetical accompaniment that begins with “graceful, dark and lonely. burnt. scared. stricken!” Ironically, these very adjectives could quite effortlessly be used to describe Halo Star itself, the 9th full-length release from Projekt Record’s signature artist. The eleven tracks that follow “Glow” represent the blend of Darkwave and Neoclassical styles that has become Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s signature sound. In typical BTFBG style, vocals on Halo Star are distinct and varied with Elysabeth Grant providing a succulent soprano on such tracks as “Your Love is Sweeter Than Wine,” an impassioned tribute to founding member Sam Rosenthal and flautist Lisa Feuer’s son Sasha, in which Grant coos, “I believe in the beauty in your eyes, in the power of your words / I believe, I believe in your purity / you’ll set me free / you’ll set the world free.”
    Later tracks such as “Already Forgotten” further showcase her range as she stretches into a nearly bottomless alto in such lines as “I thought to walk away / my emptiness stabs right through me / my thoughts are plaguing me / deceiving me / and isn’t that just like it always is? / and isn’t that just like it always is?” Conversely, Bret Helm (of Audra) provides a sagacious and moody male voice for seven of the album’s tracks including “Knock Three Times,” a tongue in cheek, vamp-goth take off on the Tony Orlando song of the same name. However, in the BTFBG version Helm instructs the listener to “Knock three times on your coffin if you want my love / twice on the pipe if your answer is no.” But Helm’s vocals are perhaps most powerful on Halo Star’s tenth track “The Fourth Footstep” in which they take on a gauzy and breathy quality that couldn’t possibly be better suited to this seven minute long composition that is as haunted and ethereal as it is lovely and seductive. Indeed, Halo Starr is sure to please loyal fans of Black Tape for a Blue Girl who have had to wait for a new album since 2002’s The Scavenger Bride. However, while the blanket of familiarity does certainly stretch around most tracks on Halo Star, don’t be fooled. This release represents a new chapter for Black Tape for a Blue Girl, a band that has, since its inception, been the vehicle through which Rosenthal’s creative juices ran unobstructed. And although Halo Star is without question a Black Tape of a Blue Girl creation, there is a change in the wind that can be easily seen through the album’s varied instrumentation. While Rosenthal’s distinctive electronic work, with the inclusion of such classical elements as flute (Lisa Feuer), violin (Vicki Richards) and dulcimer (Michael Laird), remains the cornerstone for most melodies, Halo Star is marked by an unusual emphasis on percussion and guitar, elements that have not, until this release, been readily associated with Black Tape for a Blue Girl. What is remarkable about this evolution is that while it adds an additional layer to Halo Star, it does so without detracting at all from the sound that has come to define one of Darkwave’s most influential and architectural artists. That said, Halo Star seems to reflect a collaborative vision, rather than simply that of its founder making it not only a well crafted and captivating new chapter in Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s development, but also Projekt Record’s most important release this year. -Jennifer Jones

  7. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Horror Web

    This album is an exquisite mix of tribal, folk, and dark-wave sounds that will send lyrical bliss to your soul. Old fans will agree that this is a powerful comeback as well as one of the best CD’s put out by Black Tape; new fans will be mesmerized by the silky vocals of Grant & Helm and fall in complete love with the darkwave genre. This is also the first album in a long while for BTBG that prominently features male vocals! The first track “Glow” sends you on a wild tantalizing tribal tour into depths of unknown wonder. Short but sweet, it meshes into the second track, “Tarnished.” Helm’s Gothic vocals intertwined with the tribal beats melts even the most blackened heart. Track 3 is one of my favorites. “The Gravediggers” is a soft, melodically dark, and morbidly beautiful song telling a story of a person about to be buried, lost in limbo it appears. Exquisite! Grant finally graces our ears with her vocal presence in the 4th track “Your love is sweeter than wine” Hello! This woman’s voice is as sweet and luxurious as honey! Grant again seduces us with track 5 “Indefinable, yet” sharing her indefinable love and Helm adds some background vocals which make this an absolutely beautiful rendition of a Gothic love song (Is there such thing? Gothic LOVE song?) and the instrumental splashes of bells, flute, and acoustic guitar (played by Helm) sets your love ablaze. “Knock three times” is a campy upbeat little Gothic tune that leaves your toes a tapping and fingers a snappin while the rest of your being is absolutely creeped out. I mean c’mon, wouldn’t you be if someone told you they were trying to bring back their dead lover? Track 7 the vocals are reminiscent to The Church and the music will simply blow you away. Track 8 “Damn Swan!” Grant is back at it again, her sultry honey like voice mesmerizes and seduces you with this song of innocence lost. Track 9 “Already Forgotten” Grant’s vocals along side beautiful piano and cello brings tears to your eyes with this sad sad story of loss and memories. The rest of this CD is just simply amazing! I’m telling you, pleading with you, listen to the sample tracks, you are going to fall in love, you must purchase this CD!

  8. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From High Bias

    Halo Star, the latest album from the venerable Gothic music institution black tape for a blue girl, is a very different beast from the ensemble’s last record The Scavenger Bride. While that project was a story-heavy masterpiece of contemporary art song Halo Star returns the band to its Gothic rock roots. Joining regular cast members Elysabeth Grant (vocals), Lisa Feuer (flute), Vicki Richards (violin) and, of course, Sam Rosenthal (songs, electronics, direction) are two stalwarts of the scene, singer/guitarist/bassist Bret Helm of Goth rock traditionalists Audra and percussionist/guitarist Michael Laird of the amazing Gothic/pagan/medieval/folk/whatever group Unto Ashes. Helm’s baritone croon, genetically encoded for Gothic rock in the way Jellyfish’s Andy Sturmer’s voice is for power pop, is the perfect vehicle to deliver percussive ravers like “Dagger” (which features horrifying couplets like “If I had the will of a god/I’d leave you impaled to die”) or the wonderfully crafted “Tarnished” — if Goth is ever going to spawn a mainstream hit single, this is it. He’s equally adept at Rosenthal’s brooding, menacing laments, such as “The Gravediggers” and “Scarecrow.” Helm also turns in a deliciously bemused performance on the sardonic “Knock Three Times” (the rest of the stanza: “on your coffin if you want my love”), a catchy tune that manages to both condemn bullies who torment Goths and rib the black lipstick set at the same time. Grant gets her chance to shine on lovely but unsettling torch songs like “Damn Swan!” (which borrows from Greek mythology and W.B. Yeats), “Already Forgotten” and “Indefinable, yet.” Her ethereal soprano also gives voice to “Your Love is Sweeter Than Wine,” a beautifully dulcet ode to Rosenthal’s young son. Though this is more of a singer’s album than anything Rosenthal has crafted before, the vocalists would be nowhere without the instrumentation. Richards’ droning violin, Halo Star, Rosenthal’s amazingly tasteful synth beds (more like string quartet arrangements than typical electro-pop) and especially Laird’s diverse rhythms create organic support for Helm and Grant to soar. Halo Star is a marvel, a mesmerizing journey that manages to move toward the horizon and come back home at the same time. -Michael Toland

  9. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Grave Concerns

    2004 seems to have spawned something of a rebirth of organic alternative rock. Artist after artist is reaching back to his or her early rock roots and stripping down to guitar-centered, raw alternative rock. Now, unlikely as it may seem, ethereal icons Black Tape for a Blue Girl have put one foot on the bandwagon with Halo Star. Granted, Black Tape’s rock roots hang somewhere around the airy gothic folk they previously explored in the 80s on Mesmerized by the Sirens and Ashes in the Brittle Air, but this album is decidedly more organic, guitar-oriented, and mainstream than their other recent offerings.

    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

  10. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Gothtronic

    Black Tape for a Blue Girl is back with a stunning album. This is the crown on the 18th anniversay of Black Tape for a Blue Girl as a band. After a Oriental inspired ‘glowing’ intro, the song ‘Tarnished’ starts, in which hypnotizing vocals by Brett Helm of Audra are accompanied by exciting percussion and a wide variety of luscious electronic sounds. The melodies on Halo Star rely even more on instruments than in the past. In the next song, the melancholic ‘The Gravediggers’, a acoustic guitar played by Michael Laird forms a duet with Brett’s voice, and delicate flute instrumentation by Lisa joins in to form a trio in this little story. ‘Your Love is Sweeter than Wine’ is sung by Elysabeth Grant, ‘Indefinable, Yet’ is a magical track, slowly moving, though a bit restless, it unfolds in all its beauty. The music on Halo Star may appear lovely and sweet at first but slowly pours in dark elements. In ‘Knock Three Times’ a little story is told about this girl who is dead but wants to give her love if you’ll knock three times on her coffin. Quite sinister, but musically it sounds like a children’s tune. A morbid combination you’ll also often notice in the work of another band, Current 93.

    ‘Scarecrow’ is a rather harsh composition. The vocals are very conjuring, the little drum sounds set in the rhythm and blow in the necessary energy in this track while effects and a massive wall of guitar sound pull the listener into the otherworldly sonic realms of Black Tape for A Blue Girl. Excellent! Damn Swan!’ is a ethereal song again dominated by female vocals. In this track it are the electronic undertones which are essential in the overall sound. ‘Already Forgotten’ is introduced by a piano and cello, and tells us another story, which seems to deal with the aspect of loss and memory. ‘The Fourth Footstep’ hesitatingly sets in, it seems, with expanding instrumentation, which works very hypnotizing through which this amost psychedelic track is somwhat reminiscent of the swirling sound of shoegaze bands during the florishing years of 4AD in the early nineties. ‘Dagger’ is a impressive and haunting piece of music. Titletrack ‘Halo Star’ finally, ends this cd in grace with a combination of Sam’s electronic sounds and Brett’s vocals accompanied by piano. Finally i must state that the artwork is absolutely impressive. I got a advance promo copy without the artwork, but on the website http://www.halostar.us you can see images of the beautiful artwork yourself and if you have downloaded this album, you’ll probably think again and support this band as the price of this cd is only 11.98 dollars. All in all this is a good end of summer, as with Halo Star we again have a very extraordinary cd of the month at Gothtronic.com next september, after Attrition’s excellent release for August. -Teknoir

  11. Reviews Editor

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    From Gothic Paradise

    Introducing the 9th full-length album by this group that has attained legendary status among the ethereal gothic fans. This latest album continues to build on the solid foundation that Sam Rosenthal has built over the years.

    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

  12. Reviews Editor

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    From Fac193

    The ever-prolific project of Projekt head Sam Rosenthal and a cast of thousands, Black Tape For A Blue Girl have long earned their place in the pantheon of American Gothic music. Black Tape has earned it on its own terms, mixing ancient and ethnic musics with contemporary ennui — singlehandedly offering a new definition of what one might consider to be “Gothic.” Halo Star is Black Tape mk 2004, offering familiar faces (Bret Helm and Elysabeth Grant’s stirring vocals, Lisa Feuer’s flute and Sam’s potent electronics) but further exploring and plumbing the depths of their own sound. “Your love is sweeter than wine” is filled with droning, lush folk overtones, while “Tarnished” is deep, tantric psychedelia. Bret Helm could well be mistaken for the son of Peter Murphy on voice alone, and in “Knock three times” the similarities are delightfully uncanny and incite shameless envy from this reviewer. The beautiful spaciousness of Halo Star’s music is almost narcotic and deeply addictive — you’ll be hanging onto every word of Elysabeth Grant’s performance on “Already forgotten” and entranced by Vicki Richards’s violin drone on “Dagger” as it slow dances with the heady sea of ambience that is Sam’s electronic work. As much as I loved The Scavenger Bride, Halo Star is now my favorite of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s recent work. It is, without a doubt, an instant classic. -Jack Alberson

  13. Reviews Editor

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    From Dark Culture

    The music is classic Black Tape with newer twists. The synths are more modern sounding yet has a classical feel. Some of the songs are more goth rock than what Black Tape have done in the past. Some of the songs even have a straight-up industrial edge. Will we see more industrial sounds from Projekt Records? I sure hope so very soon. The quieter songs on Halo Star have that very dark apocalyptic folk song feel, very reminiscent of early Black Tape. The vocals of Brett Helm are so superb that I must add him to my list of “superstar” goth vocalist along with Robert Smith of The Cure and even as dark and as deeper a vocal tone as Peter Steel’s (Type O Negative). The heavenly female vocals is such an unforgettable fire. The thing that is appropriately missing in Halo Star is the heavily reverberated sounds of atmospheres. I have been waiting for this kind of stuff to re-surface for quite some time now and I never expected it to come from a band that began almost 2 decades ago. I guess when you least expects something, it comes from the unexpected. Halo Star delivers darkwave music in its superior form and band founder, Sam Rosenthal’s songwriting is stronger than ever. The current line-up of Black Tape for A Blue Girl is definitely a dream line-up for any band. I wish more bands, especially newer ones to be this superb in their performance in studio and live. Halo Star is a modern day dark wave classic. -Adhab Al-Farhan

  14. Reviews Editor

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    From Bliss/Aquamarine

    Ninth album from Black Tape For A Blue Girl, the band of Sam Rosenthal who runs Projekt. There are a variety of sounds on offer here, all held together by the dark atmospheres they have. Tracks include the atmospheric Middle Eastern tinged instrumental “Glow,” the atmospheric and rhythmic goth track “Tarnished,” the beautiful dark and ethereal song “Your Love Is Sweeter Than Wine,” the apocalyptic folk of “Indefinable, Yet,” “Scarecrow” which mixes apocalyptic folk with almost psychedelic atmospheric guitar and keyboard and distinctive drumming, “Damn Swan!,” where the doom-laden meets the delicate and beautiful, the dark beauty of “Already Forgotten,” with its strings, piano and woodwind, and “Dagger” which mixes deep gothic vocals with dark ambient backing. “The Fourth Footstep” combines ambient and melodic elements to great effect – a really captivating song, in which they do the spacerock/post-rock thing better than many spacerock/post-rock bands! So it’s a goth thing, or at least music that appeals to goths, but they usually avoid the obvious stereotypes. The closest they get to something obviously goth is in the lyrics of “The Gravediggers” and the male singer’s vocal style. Those of you who think goths are too serious for their own good may be pleasantly surprised to know that Black Tape are able to laugh at the whole goth stereotype. “Knock Three Times” has tongue in cheek lyrics like “Knock three times on your coffin if you want my love” and “She was so cute in a ‘why don’t you get out and see the sun’ kind of way”, and rhythms that sound like rattling bones.

  15. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From All Music

    After releasing two heavy, Duchamp inspired albums – 1999’s As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire and 2002’s The Scavenger Bride – Black Tape for a Blue Girl returns with Halo Star, a countryside, pastoral type of darkness in twelve purposeful tracks. The wealth of acoustic guitars on the album recalls the work of Current 93, but lyrically Sam Rosenthal’s project is less concerned with runes and mythology and more concerned with relationships and loss. There’s a bit of Dead Can Dance here in the far-off, exotic percussion that pops up from time to time but that’s it for influence, the rest is all Rosenthal. He’s developed into quite the earth-based songwriter, talking about “windows broken by the mean kids who live next door” on “Knock Three Times”, the excellent, quirky appropriation of Tony Orlando’s big hit. “Knock three times on your coffin if you want my love” isn’t what you’d expect from Black Tape and this fresh, risky attitude spices up the album elsewhere. There’s the tried and true Black Tape formula too and bouncing between the new and old makes this one of the more solid collections from the band. From the more expected side, “Damn Swan!” is the best with its sleepy strum of the guitar and lyrics that show how well Rosenthal does the precious/acerbic-juggling act. Bret Helm from Audra does an excellent job on vocals throughout – “The Gravediggers” being his big showcase – as does Elysabeth Grant who’s breathy but pitch perfect. This new playful Black Tape for a Blue Girl should be extra thrilling for longtime fans, but being so varied and well structured, Halo Star ends up an excellent way to win over newcomers. -David Jeffries

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