Black Tape for a Blue Girl is the flagship band on the Projekt label, a label that specializes in what it calls “darkwave.” Basically, darkwave is lush ambient music with a dark, melancholy outlook. “Remnants of a Deeper Purity” is probably the best example of that music that Projekt has put out in recent years.
Black Tape has always created emotional music, but not to the levels of exhaustion that Remnants of a Deeper Purity creates. Black Tape/Projekt head honcho Sam Rosenthal described Remnants of a Deeper Purity as a dark thundercloud that comes over you, enbraces you, and leaves you in a drained state when it’s over. Remnants of a Deeper Purity is exactly like this. I don’t know what exactly drove Rosenthal to create this piece of work. I don’t want to know, and more importantly, I never what to experience it. Remnants of a Deeper Purity is a collection of tales; tales of betrayal, hope, love lost, and love found. Finally, it ends with a tale of self-discovery.
To present these tales, Rosenthal has crafted a collection of music that would make a modern composer proud. Rosenthal’s darkly ethereal keyboards are still the centerpiece of the music, but they are joined with the beautiful string arrangements of Vicki Richards on violin and Mera Roberts on cello. This reaches its culmination in “For You Will Burn Your Wings Upon The Sun.” Listening to this track, it becomes quite obvious that Rosenthal is a fan of Gavin Bryars and Henryk Gorecki. Some of the movements (yes, this 26-minute epic is comprised of several full-fledged movements) seem to be directly inspired by Gorecki’s “Symphony No. 3,” one of the most supremely beautiful pieces of music ever created. Rosenthal’s keyboards create sounds that can either be sinister and intimidating or be sensitive and vulnerable, as in the beautiful “Again, To Drift (For Veronika).”
The vocals are shared by Oscar Herrera and Lucian. I’ll admit that I’ve never really been to fond of Herrera’s voice, but here, it seems to work. I have no complaints about Lucian’s voice. Her angelic vocals work perfectly in this music, as if presenting the fragile and innocent side of Rosenthal’s storytelling. The lyrics are equally as self-involved as the music. In one song, we hear Herrera spitefully intones “I demand you return all of the love I gave to you. How can I ever trust again… For you have taken my heart and fed it to snakes, this girl who sleeps in the garden of shards.” Sounds like someone got screwed over. But the lyrics are also poignant, as in “I Have No More Answers,” where Lucian sings “Here I stand, all of me before your eyes — no more lies. No more lies. Just me. Pure me. Just me. Real me.” Maybe that’s the defining statement Rosenthal is trying to make here. This is a way he deals with pain and betrayal, to emerge from the darkness as a stronger, more real individual, no longer moaning about how he can’t exist without his lover. Or maybe I’m getting to caught up in the moment.
At times it’s pretentious: very pretentious. It sounds like a glorified version of simply listening to a friend whine and complain about their girlfriend, or lack of one. And who wants that, right? Sometimes, when you’re in the wrong mood, the songs are overly dramatic, even silly. But by it’s very nature, Remnants of a Deeper Purity is a breathtaking, lush, and beautifully presented piece of work. It’s a dense, thick work that requires a great deal of listening and understanding to get it’s delights.
But when you’re in the mood, and you feel like noone in the world loves you and you’ll always be alone, then there is no better album in the world to listen to. It is oppressing and intimidating, but it is a monolithic album that must be appreciated for its sheer breadth and scope, and moments of heartwrenching beauty. Very few works in the genre will compare to it, and it may well take an act of Divine intervention for Black Tape for a Blue Girl to follow this one up.