Black Tape for a Blue Girl is credited with starting the “darkwave” genre. Sam Rosenthal founded Projekt in the ’80s to showcase his work (in Black Tape for a Blue Girl and otherwise), and has expanded to include other similar bands like Lycia and Love Spirals Downward. As previously, Sam assembles a cast of musicians who appear on various tracks, with Sam filling in many of the vocals and instruments. The melancholy and low-key songs meld each into the next, so that the album resembles a movie score with words.
Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s music, on this release in particular, is marked by instrumental sections that drift in and out of the songs and weave through the vocals. There are rarely if ever drums, the songs pushed along moreso by vocal inflection and instruments such as piano, violin, and harpsichord. The strength of the music is in the arrangement and atmosphere, giving it much in common with classical arrangements, or even jazz. The vocals themselves are of a high quality not found in many other sub-genres of rock music, or even among relatives to darkwave such as goth and ambient electronica. This is a necessity, since the voices take center stage on many tracks. Still, they do sound droning and a bit pretentious in places. Overall, the sound of the recording could be compared to a stripped-down version of Dead Can Dance, complete with male and female vocals and various international influences.
Most of the lyrics are printed in the sleeve, which is adorned with some tasteful black-and-white photography. The lyrics read like free-form poetry, focused on the theme of desire. This desire takes many forms, both emotional and physical. Blatant erotic imagery is kept to a minimum. At times, the imagery is dark, such as “And sometimes it’s worse to feel alive than to feel dead” in “Denouement/Denouncement.” There are some clever turns of phrase, like “I toss their commandments asunder/Thou shall not desire that thy wife is coveted” from “Tell Me You’ve Taken Another.” For most listeners, this would qualify as background music to other activities. Writers and artists may find it very inspiring for creative moments, and I could see it as candlelit dinner material for couples. As for actually sitting and listening through the entire album… though it is quite beautiful, this could be intimidating.
This review appeared courtesy of Stranger Things Magazine. Written by Jeff Edwards.