black tape for a blue girl: ashes in the brittle air (2020 remaster) (2CD/LP)


Product Description

All physical sales include the 20 page Memorabilia booklet. Read as a pdf here.

LP — Vinyl 2nd edition, 300 units Gold in Ultra Clear, With b&w lyric insert.
CD — Remastered 2CD in 6-panel digipak with 16-page lyric/photo booklet. 21 tracks on 2nd disc. Limited edition of 500.

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• Remastered from original 1/4” tapes.
• 21 bonus tracks on the 2nd CD: demos, acapella versions, includes 6 completely finished songs from back in the day that have never been heard before.
• “Across a thousand blades” has a new 2020 mix on Disc 2 using original sources. CD+LP version is the original mix, of course.

Purchase in Europe for fast, inexpensive shipping:

Information in English here. Click to order CD or LP.

Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s 1989 third album Ashes in the brittle air is now available in a deluxe edition remastered from the original 1/4” tapes. The remaster is warm and clear, and the album retains that dreamy, romantic quality you remember from the 80s.

Ashes contains angst and trepidation in the lyrics yet also beauty and hopeful melancholia in the mood and music. It’s an album of existential, ethereal, and gothic musings. Ashes was the release that brought the band out of the fanzine-based underground to listeners of what in the 80s we called “college radio.” “Across a thousand blades” on CMJ’s CERTAIN DAMAGE compilation CD went to stations across the country and garnered regular airplay. In fact, many of you have mentioned that ASHES was your first exposure to Black Tape For A Blue Girl.

Alternative Press: “This is hurting, romantic lament. Herrera’s vocals ram me with image-brimming, griping vacancy of the precariously desperate soul hanging beneath hope by a frayed thread.”

As I wrote in the original album description: “Bursting forth like a lucid dream, this release unearths powerful connections to deeper truths. Sue-Kenny’s folk approach and Oscar’s intense voice guide the way through Sam’s tales of existential personal introspection.”

Oscar sizzles with dramatic and passionate vocals. Sue-Kenny Smith’s voice brings a softer, sensitive & spontaneous English-folk quality to the album. Mixing Sue with my electronics and ambience — and Oscar’s vocals — created a diverse collection of songs that arrived at just the right moment. There wasn’t really anyone else in America doing this ethereal style.

Ashes  was the first BlackTape released on CD; the improved sonic quality of the medium over the previous two LPs really benefited the music. With this expanded rerelease, my mastering guy went back and worked from the original quarter-inch mixdown tapes. In 1989, I thought the original sounded great, but this new mastering sounds amazing! There is so much subtle detail now, everything feels warmer and more present. I really love it! I added six completed tracks (on the second disc) from that era — something special for the album’s fans. There’s no way I can go back in time and write more pieces in this exact style. These tracks are completed songs I never released for artist-angst reasons; they make a wonderful addition to the album. Also included are a bunch of demos and early mixes to round out the 21 bonus tracks.

Disc 1 contains the remastered 11-track 1989 album. Disc 2 contains demos plus six songs that have never been heard before: tracks from “the first version” of ASHES. There’s a lengthy backstory about how those songs evolved, my stressing about it, and cutting them from the album. The tracks remained in my archive, unmixed, all these years. With modern equipment, THE SOUND OF WAVES ep (the first 5 tracks on disc 2) finally sounds the way I had hoped back in ’88. There’s a total of 21 bonus tracks on the 2nd CD & download (including demos, acapella versions). “Across a thousand blades” has a new 2020 mix on disc 2, using only original sources.)

Option Magazine: “We’re talking deep European existential despair here, the fevered outpouring of a tortured soul.”

There’s also a limited edition “Aska i den skor luften” journal at the bandcamp page.

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This was my 12th Kickstarter; it’s the way I fund my albums in the modern version of the music industry. Crowdfunding is a wonderful connection I make with people who love the art I create. I meet more and more fans from back-in-the-day this way; I enjoy chatting with you and hearing your experiences with my music. So often, I’m told that my albums were there for you at a tough time in life. A breakup, a death, a personal crisis; it’s very rewarding to know that the sounds I created for my own emotional reasons were helpful when you needed them.

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L.A. Weekly: “Black Tape for A Blue Girl do a reasonable approximation of the 4AD vibe around the corner in Garden Grove. This is languid, lucid music… Their entropy is infectious.”

All Music: “Black Tape’s third full album takes the band to a new level of grace… ambient soundscapes mingled with low-key rock mood pieces, backing Rosenthal’s varying studies of romantic obsession and fragmentation – the various performances here are more involving than ever. Herrera and Kenny-Smith return as the major vocalists, along with Rosenthal himself on ‘slight vocals’ and electronics; a bevy of other guest performances flesh out the album as a whole, from guitars to clarinet and violin. A consistent collection of songs and performances, Ashes is never anything less that tastefully atmospheric, and often more than that, a perfect soundtrack to a late night.”

LP Selling Points:

• Meticulously remastered from the original mixdown 1/4″ tape by Howard Givens.
• 140-gram smoky translucent vinyl. With b&w lyric card.
• Their goth hit “Across a thousand blades”
• Limited edition of 300. 150 are already sold.

Click to Join, hit send, and I’ll add you to the list. – Sam


• 1989 — original compact disc in jewel box
• January 2020 — 2CD remastered deluxe edition
• January 2020 — Vinyl 1st edition, 300 units 140-gram smoky translucent vinyl. With b&w lyric insert. Sold out November 2021.
• March 1 2022 — Vinyl 2nd edition, 300 units 140-gram Gold in Ultra Clear, with b&w lyric insert.

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  1. reviews editor

    Reviews from 1989″

    LA WEEKLY: “As we postmodernists shuffle off our mortal coil, our demise will undoubtedly be scored to one of the many 4AD releases that have defined bad-mood music in the late 80′s. Until now, we’ve had to import our choler and phelgm from that fine English label, but Black Tape for A Blue Girl do a reasonable approximation of the 4AD vibe around the corner in Garden Grove. Their third release comes complete with Sue Kenny-Smith’s British vocals and acoustic guitar, Sam Rosenthal’s euphonious electronics, and obscurantist lyrics that tell tales of misconnection and emotional impotence. The homages to Breathless and Dead Can Dance are unavoidable but managed skillfully. This is languid, lucid music that suffers only from the inevitable comparison to those who went before, and its own intellectual heaviness, evident in quotes from Nietzsche and song titles such as “The Scar of A Poet.” This album does a neat disappearing trick, too, opening with the most powerful and complex songs, and working its way down to omnious ambient keyboards and wistful folk melodies. Black Tape doesn’t need to lighten up, but rather to thicken up. Their entropy is infectious.”

    RELIX: “This release is an interesting artsy excursion into subtle electronics by this three piece band. Musically, it’s a little hard to characterize. The songs are full of Nietzsche-influenced, depressing lyrics that are wrapped in surprisingly melodic and engaging experimental music. File this one under odd, but interesting.”

    CMJ College Music Report: “The electronic instruments and manipulations and Sue-Kenny Smith’s seraphic vocals are the guiding points to the beyond-all-earthly-concerns aura flowing lavishly from this record, though the more conventional guitars, violin, clarinet and piano ( only two cuts feature percussion of any kind) manage to drift into similar ozone regions. Though it’s not difficult to tie threads of Ashes to Shellylan Orphan or general 4AD ethereality, Black Tape emanates a strange. quiet beauty, one that’s meant to haunt the listener, and more often then not, will.”

  2. reviews editor

    A review from Music Eternal

    When Black Tape For A Blue Girl made the album, Ashes In The Brittle Air, they made an album that is more than just music. Some of the songs feel magic in a far off place, others feel like the haunting beauty of a dream that lingers each part of the respective song.

    Ashes In The Brittle Air is an 11 track album that was originally released through Projekt Records in August 1989. To many that have had the chance to hear it and have been able to connect to the beauty in each song, they have found this album to be a true gem worthy of being cherished. The passion and empathy in the music gives a special tone to those that truly listen to the music. As it snares the attention and evokes emotions through each melody presented.

    This endearing album by Black Tape For A Blue Girl can now be yours. The digital release is listed as “Name Your Price,” which means you can pay nothing or give thanks to this amazing band and give something back to them for giving a part of their collection of music to their fans. Play the Bandcamp player above and discover this enchanting album and you can use that same player to get your copy.

  3. padmin

    From Darkroom Magazine

    Sfruttando intelligentemente un mezzo come Kickstarter, Sam Rosenthal e la sua storica etichetta sono riusciti a trasformare in realtà questa superba operazione discografica, che ci riconsegna non soltanto lo storico terzo album dei BTFABG Ashes In The Brittle Air (1989) interamente rimasterizzato, ma anche un secondo CD (racchiuso anch’esso nel mirabile digipack a sei pannelli completo di ampio booklet) contenente sia tracce demo ed alternative del periodo in esame, sia un intero EP (“The Sound Of Waves”) che sarebbe dovuto uscire nell’88, ma che non aveva sin qui mai visto la luce. Al netto dell’opportuna e ben concretizzata rimasterizzazione (non messa in atto nella precedente ristampa in CD del 2000), su “Ashes…” c’è poco da aggiungere, specie per i seguaci più fedeli dello storico act americano: caposaldo della darkwave, è stato l’album che ha garantito una maggior popolarità al progetto, facendolo di fatto uscire dal solo giro delle fanzine, e fra i tanti meriti dei suoi creatori c’è soprattutto quello di aver implementato una gamma di soluzioni vocali e strumentali molto più ampia, particolarmente efficace nel catturare le sensazioni e le visioni di un ancor giovane ma già molto determinato Sam. Coadiuvato dalle ottime voci di Sue-Kenny Smith ed Oscar Herrera, oltre che dalle performance strumentali e canore di un piccolo gruppo di ospiti, Sam ha compiuto con “Ashes…” quell’importante giro di boa che spesso e volentieri coincide proprio con l’avvento del terzo album, regalando grandi emozioni con la dolcezza, l’intensità, la tensione drammatica, l’austerità ed il pathos degli undici brani inclusi, fra melodiose tastiere, ariose aperture acustiche d’estrazione folk, sentori etnici senza tempo e sontuosi input sinfonici.

    Un gioiello abilmente tirato a lucido, cui si aggiunge un secondo dischetto zeppo di materiale raro e/o inedito: in primis il suddetto EP “The Sound Of Waves”, mixato ex novo in tutte le sue componenti per suonare come Sam avrebbe voluto nell’88, con la drammatica “Let The Rain Fall” ad aprire, la dolcezza folk di “Milan” (cantata in francese) e di “Griffith Park”, quella tastieristica di “I’m Spinning” e le melodie di una title-track cantata nella nostra lingua. Seguono poi ben dodici tracce fra versioni demo, alternative ed a cappella dello stesso periodo, tutte più che gradevoli sia per contenuti che per resa audio, ed infine troviamo ben quattro versioni del classico dell’epoca “Across A Thousand Blades”, atte a mostrarci l’evoluzione di questa importante song: due versioni demo datate ’87 ed ’88, una a cappella e, per finire, il “2020 mix”, che nella mente di Sam è la sua forma definitiva, e per il quale sono state utilizzate le tracce vocali e strumentali originarie. Inutile dire che, qualora “Ashes…” dovesse mancare nelle vostre collezioni, questa è l’occasione giusta per recuperare questo fondamentale tassello della discografia dei BTFABG, così come appare scontato sottolineare quanto il secondo CD farà particolarmente gola ai completisti ed ai seguaci più fedeli dello storico act americano. Da avere, per apprezzare la vera essenza della darkwave. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi

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