Like Dead Can Dance, black tape for a blue girl dramatically flirts with symphonic decay.\" The Philadelphia City Paper
Sixteen years after its debut, black tape for a blue girl is one of the most successful and beloved bands within the ethereal gothic genre, while also engaging fans of elegant, artistic music. Their eighth release is a lovingly crafted concept album set in 1913 Prague; guest appearances from members of Unto Ashes, Audra, Judith, Spahn Ranch and a former member of Rasputina enliven the thirteen bewitching tracks. This album is like nothing you\'ve heard before, yet these emotionally intense songs are classic black tape for a blue girl. Inspired in part by the writings of Franz Kafka and the artwork of Marcel Duchamp, lyricist/songwriter Sam Rosenthal designed the extensively illustrated 24 page booklet of photos, lyrics and stories to enhance his metaphoric tale of a bride and her suitors. Sam has also created a special site just for this release.
Photos from the booklet. Click for larger sized images
There are so many reviews of that we\'ve begun a roll-over page (click here).
A review from Alternative Press #168 (July 2002):
Kafkaesque disc avoids concept-album pitfalls to emerge as a true work of art. | 9 out of 10 | Listening to \"The Scavenger Bride\" by Black Tape for a Blue Girl is like sitting in a cathedral of mindful gloom, feeling at once melancholy and reassured. Sam Rosenthal continues to be inspired by the art of Marcel Duchamp, while author Franz Kafka serves as muse for this concept album set in 1913 Prague. The title track is a cinematic overture, a portent of the artful blending of goth, ambient and chamber music to follow. Rich, timeless vocals by Elysabeth Grant, Bret Helm, and others breathe dark life into the passionate lyrics, but it\'s the instrumental passages-with flute by Lisa Feuer, violin by Vicki Richards, cello by Julia Kent and electronics by Rosenthal-that burrow deep with the greatest poignancy. Comparisons with Dead Can Dance have become tiresome and inaccurate, for what Rosenthal is doing here is more original and singular in its ability to touch the listener both emotionally and intellectually. - Mark Burbey
A review from Delirium Magazine:
[An intro from an interview] I have been patiently awaiting the eighth release of the new black tape for a blue girl record and when I received the scavenger bride, I was blown away by the near perfection of this opus. From the opening song, \"the scavenger bride\" to the final thirteenth track \"bastille day, 1961,\" black tape for a blue girl take you on an aural journey to the foyers of the past to early 1900s era Prague, and it feels like you are being literally drawn into the romantic and mystickal lush landscape they have brought to life. Letting your emotions run wild, lighting your favorite scented candles, drinking absinthe or red wine will surely add to the experience you will journey into. I can\'t get enough of this album and black tape fans, will be enthralled and newcomers who are into ethereal, darkwave, and gothic music will be pleasantly delighted by the powerful sonic assault this album delivers. - Sophie Diamantis-Fry
A review from Exclaim:
Mandolin, dulcimer, flute, cello, piano, Doumbek, violin, percussion and electronics, what else could one ask for in an album from über-goth/darkwave label Projekt Records? Some suitably melodramatic vocals perhaps, which also are here in both male and female variety. Self-described as their first concept album, The Scavenger Bride has a tale to tell with each number. The songs consider the state of a bride and those she has loved, and are appropriately inspired by existentialist writer Franz Kafka. Certainly the lyrics are largely dealing with matters of the soul, the intense inner workings of the heart, mind and powerful emotions, but without knowing your way around, the existentialist\'s take on life the album\'s \"concept\" might seem as absurd as our existence itself. Nonetheless, this dour bunch has been around for over a decade-and-a-half and there is a definite sophistication about their music to prove it. They go beyond the gothic tendency to slip into self-indulgence mostly via their expert instrumentation. Dark and beautiful, the songs remain simple and restrained but not repetitive. High points include the Bauhaus-flavoured \"The Lie Which Refuses to Die\" and a clever reworking of Sonic Youth\'s \"Shadow of a Doubt.\" -Coreen Wolanski
A review from High Bias:
Black tape for a blue girl has been a touchstone for the modern Gothic music scene for well over fifteen years now, not only for its own melancholy take on matters of the heart but also for the stewardship by leader/synthesist Sam Rosenthal of the great independent label Projekt. The Scavenger Bride, however, removes the group from anything as defining as a genre. A concept album based on the writings of Franz Kafka, The Scavenger Bride tells the story of a would-be bride and all the men who woo and lose her. Set in 1913 Prague, the tale is told by a schavager (essentially a town janitor) to a group of strangers in a bar, setting up a tale within a tale in the Don Quixote tradition. Using a more diverse assembly of instrumentation than ever before and melodies derived more from classical art song than rock or pop, Rosenthal casts a spell as much literary as musical. While the pieces are as obsessed with decaying romance as anything the band has done previously, the conceptual thrust and musical sweep of black tape\'s eight album place it far beyond anything so simply defined as Goth.
The album begins with the oceanic electronics of the title track, which is meant to be heard while reading the opening text in the graphics-intensive booklet. It then moves into \"Kinski,\" an ethereal love song to actor Klaus Kinski. Singer Elysabeth Grant languidly relates her desire for \"the passion and fury\" the troubled thespian represents over an electronic soundscape enhanced by Lisa Fleur\'s flute and hammered dulcimer from guest Michael Laird of Unto Ashes. The vocal melody seemingly follows its own path across the musical scale, but its disconnection to the music it accompanies is an illusion. \"Kinski\" pretty much sets the pattern for the rest of the record. Rosenthal layers his synthesizers into the arrangements as if making a particularly warm bed; the singers rest atop the covers, writhing in the throes of their own lucid dreams. Longer pieces like \"The Scavenger\'s Daughter\" and \"Like a Dog/Letter to Brod\" (also meant to be listened to whilst absorbing the text) stand as no less than beautifully realized mini-symphonies, with arias, movements and a sense of flow from one idea to the next that few composers in the rock world can even understand, let alone emulate. Short tracks like \"The Doorkeeper\" and \"The Whipper\" serve almost as oases, letting the musical traveler rest for a minute or two, as the bride relates lesser moments of her star-crossed history over ambient beds of electronics.
There\'s nothing here that could be called pop, but some tracks have catchier tunes than others. Audra\'s Bret Helm guest stars on the calmly menacing \"The Lie Which Refuses to Die,\" as his baritone smoothly croons lyrics like \"I\'m the one who\'s rightly to blame for everything they ever wanted that has not come true.\" \"A Livery of Bachelors\" gently weaves a waltz into a gossamer curtain of sound, with guest guitars from Helm and Judith\'s Christopher David and a beautifully nuanced vocal from Spahn Ranch\'s Athan Maroulis. \"All My Lovers\" furnishes the record\'s most conventional melody, as another waltz finds itself prodded along by Grant\'s lovely singing and Laird\'s percolating percussion and mandolin. But even these tracks fit better as part of the whole, rather than as separate pieces. This is a truly conceptual work, meant to flow from one section to the next. As such, it takes multiple listens to fully absorb. One hopes that the loyal Goth audience black tape for a blue girl has painstakingly built over the years and adventurous listeners outside of the genre\'s purview will have the patience to give The Scavenger Bride the attention it deserves to appreciate its remarkable beauty. - Michael Toland
A review from Morbid Outlook:
The best album Black Tape has put out in years! An incredibly sophisticated concept album, featuring the talents of singer Elysabeth Grant, who has toured with Black Tape extensively, Julia Kent formerly of Rasputina, Michael Laird of Unto Ashes, and Bret Helm of Audra. Bittersweet and beautiful.
A review from mysteria.cz (Czech):
Black Tape For A Blue Girl se vzdy vyznacovali vzbourenou citovostí prodchnutou smutkem a krásou. Nové album The Scavenger Bride je inspirováno i dílem Franze Kafky a umeleckou tvorbou Marcela Duchampa a vypráví romanticky´ príbeh vystaveny´ na citové bouri vsech svobodny´ch mládencu? hledajících svoji mystickou „nevestu\", jiz lépe nikdy nezahlédnout nez jen zábleskem v proudech jarního deste nebo v tajemny´ch stínech a trpytu dubnové luny. [full review at the mysteria.cz website...]
A review from Outburn Magazine #18:
9 out of 10 ~ Neoclassical Ethereal Goth : Sam Rosenthal - heart, body, and soul of Projekt Records - returns with The Scavenger Bride, a brillant concept piece that details the story of a bride-to-be and her suitors set in 1913 Prague. Inspired by the work of Franz Kafka, each piece is meticulously crafted with the soulful chamber music provided by Rosenthal\'s multifaceted electronics and piano, Lisa Feuer\'s engaging flute, the rich strings of Vicki Richrads\' violin, and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina) whose cello is deep and haunting. Add into the foreground the beauty of Elysabeth Grant\'s vocals and viola contributions, and you have the recipe for another enchanting and classic Black Tape for a Blue Girl album. Numerous guest vocals and instrumentations appear on The Scavenger Bride, including the talents of Michael Laird (Unto Ashes), Bret Helm (Audra), Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch), Christopher David (Judith), and Martin Bowes (Attrition). Each track can stand strongly on its own, but this is a work best taken in as a whole. Each note travels through the air gracefully and each word, whether sung by Elysabeth, whispered by Sam, or sung by one of the many guest male vocalists, floats desperately in an enchanting field of sorrow and beauty. Included in the set is a cover of Sonic Youth\'s \"Shadow of a Doubt,\" an abstract piece that has been re-worked nicely to fit in with the story of the distressed bride. Overall, this album is a shining effort and well worth the wait. - Joseph Graham
A review from Outsight webzine:
Black Tape for a Blue Girl is the hallmark group in the darkwave movement and from this leadership position they present a beautiful concept album of mysterious minimalism and vocal beauty. The great vocals come from new singer Elysabeth Grant, long part of the Projekt fold. The ideas come from a fusion of the artwork of Marcel Duchamp and the writings of Franz Kafka. Besides reaching, and successfully reaching, thematically, this is the most instrumentally dense of the Black Tape for a Blue Girl albums. The substrate is still Sam Rosenthal\'s layered electronics and piano. Beside Grant, additional vocalists telling the tale of Prague\'s tragic 1914 scavenger bride include Audra\'s Bret Helm and Spahn Ranch\'s Athan Maroulis. Beside the usual flute accompaniment a mini-string section of Vicki Richards (violin), Grant (viola) and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina, cello) fleshes out the sound. The dramatic presentation mostly succeeds in this consistent album setting a new high water mark for the group. This was well worth the nearly three-year wait since their previous release. (4 of 5) - Thomas Schulte
A review from sourcewebzine (Brazil):
A excelente produção do oitavo CD do BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL veio realçar ainda mais o potencial do grupo liderado por Sam Rosethal, responsável pela maioria dos arranjos da banda. Tendo suas raízes fixadas em estilos como Ambient e Ethereal, a banda flerta com sequências eletrônicas viariadas e com alguns elementos da música gótica. Rotular a música do grupo parece ser um tarefa difícil, principalmente se contarmos com todo a versatilidade da flautista Lisa Feuer e de Julia Kent, uma maestrina no celo. Destaque para as músicas \"All My Lovers\", \"Shadow Of A Doubt\" e \"A Livery Of Bachelors\", representantes fiéis do talento musical do conjunto. Um grupo recomendável para os que gostam dos estilos mencionados ou àqueles que buscam novas melodias. Pure Ambient and Ethereal sound. Listen!
A review from Starvox:
[excerpt]...With that in mind, I think Sam took a much different approach to this release, and the scavenger bride is definitely one of the most unique and dare I say \'experimental\' additions to the Black Tape discography. The neo-Classical elements are still to be found in Vicki Richards\' eastern violin talents, Lisa Feuer\'s delicate flute playing, and Elysabeth Grant\'s striking range of beautiful vocal delivery. This time around, the instrumentation has expanded into even broader realms, touching on exotic and more rhythmically \'slinky\' songs, best exemplified in the wonderfully refreshing tracks \"All My Lovers\" and \"The Whipper.\" You rarely think of Black Tape as the kind of band to receive club play, save for the darkwave classic \"Across A Thousand Blades.\" There is a similar feel to the aforementioned songs, though they have an even more appealing sense of organic flow, due to collaborations with Michael Laird of Unto Ashes fame. - Matthew