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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 12 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 as well.
Performance CreditsBlack Tape for a Blue Girl Primary Artist
Vicki Richards Violin,Drones
Bret Helm Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Fretless Bass Guitar
Sam Rosenthal Piano,Moog Synthesizer,Synthesizer Bass,electronics,Drum Loop
Bret Helm Vocals
Michael Laird Acoustic Guitar,Dumbek,Mandolin,Percussion,finger cymbals,Appalachian Dulcimer,Guitar Loops
Technical CreditsVicki Richards Composer
Black Tape for a Blue Girl Arranger
Bret Helm Composer,Lyric Adaptations,Melody Arrangement
Sam Rosenthal Composer,Producer,Engineer,Graphic Design,drum programming,Image Processing,Melody Arrangement
Michael Laird Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Once upon a time there was a very very good music magazine called OPTION, whose music critics were not afraid to say what they really thought about the stuff they critiqued. This magazine was one of those cutting edge-post punk gems where you could really get some information, not just a blurb or a schmoozy paragraph-thank-you-for-your-$2000-full-page-ad review. If you really wanted to know about a band, you could read all about it in Option, and Option's writer's had no fears. That magazine comprised some of the best music critics of their generation. If you couldn't get a good review in Option, you were pretty much ...well... awful.. and they were pretty much right on the mark. Well, I think Option went out of their way to review 1 or 2 of Black Tape for A Blue Girl's records and those reviews were always, if not totally...remarkably, abysmally bad. Nowadays there are no Options, no magazines that will give an honest review. Every zine out there is just starving to give an "A" whenever they get that golden promo in the mail, or a nice pricey ad deal. Black Tape For A Blue Girl is one of many thousands of terribly bad bands that Option actually paid enough attention to in the 80's and 90's to alert people NOT to pay attention to. A lot of people probably read their reviews or did not, and all I can say is that Black Tape has been doing the same thing for over 15 years and their music has not improved which is quite remarkable for a band that had not much to offer in the first place. Don't get me wrong, there are good musicians contributing, including violinist Vicki Williams, but the whole essence of the band, without extraneous additions, has not changed course, and has even regressed unfortunately, for example, to the tune of "Knock Three Times" which is not only embarrassing, but infuriatingly stupid whether meant to be a joke or not. I advise the listener to be cautious when buying this CD. Please listen to samples if available.