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  Scavenger Bride
Artist: Black Tape For a Blue Girl
Label: Projekt Records
Length: 13 Tracks

It is fair to say that most fans of Black Tape for a Blue Girl (Black Tape) know what to expect in picking up the latest release.  Sam Rosenthal, the focal point of any and all things Black Tape, and indeed of the Projekt label itself, consistently crafts the sound of each new disc, building on past successes, and adding a few new elements.  There is a comforting sameness each time but enough fresh perspective and artistry to make each excursion into the darkwave arena a bit different.

For the uninitiated, the sound of the band is more akin to symphonic neo-classical than rock or alternative  and is often miscast as gothic. Melodies intertwine beneath, above, and within each other from cello, mandolin, wind instruments, and other organic elements.  These mix at times with electronics and percussion without ever losing the depth of the orchestral sound.  The vocals - both male and female - likewise are intended to beautify rather than blast the listener.

Although the album is something of a continuation of the stylings of 1999's As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire, there are pleasant differences to note.  In particular, varied tempos and the use of percussive elements are more prevalent, as are departures from the lilting and ethereal vocals.  "All My Lovers" in particular could be called a medieval pop song complete with standard verse-chorus elements and hooks.  Likewise, the light percussion and whispered vocals on "Shadow of a Doubt" morph to a thundering beat and screams of "It must have been a dream!", providing contrast and tension between the songs.  The melding of synth and instruments in "A Livery of Bachelors" with the strong male lead vocals make comparisons to Dead Can Dance's finer moments a given, but the very next track (Das Liselottenbett) plunges into a dark instrumental filled with flute and an atmospheric dirge. The variation between the tracks is the true differentiator from past Black Tape releases.

The lyrical content is quite poetic in nature, befitting the music.  The album as a whole is something new for Black Tape in that it is actually one cohesive story throughout.  The basic storyline involves the many suitors to a potential bride, as told by a storyteller to a group of listeners.  While certainly sensual, as well as dark at times, there is little that could be considered patently offensive.  There is a sense of spirituality conveyed but really only a sense and nothing too overt.  Rosenthal continues to maintain that he has no spiritual or philosophical agenda that he wishes to put forth.

One can easily imagine why it took three years to craft this album.  Each track stands on its own as a thing of dark beauty and taken as a whole these tracks support each other perfectly.  The variation makes this a much easier listen in one sitting than past Black Tape albums.  Black Tape has refined to the point of near-perfection in its genre.

Jeff Edwards 5/19/2002



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