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“…striving to take hold of the life they have left unlived”
Ethereal, evocative, powerful and introspective, Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s 12th studio album To touch the milky way expands upon their sweeping Art Rock aesthetic. Utilizing multiple genres and instrumentations as elements to shape a larger conceptual work, the eclectic, modernist approach refreshes BlackTape’s pioneering musical sentiments while maintaining the unique originality of their sound. Captivating vocals from Danielle Herrera and Michael Plaster accent songwriter and bandleader Sam Rosenthal’s electro-acoustic atmospherics and foreboding, engaging lyricism. A contemplative twilight hangs over these seven tracks.
As the premier artist on the Projekt record label he founded in the early 80s, Rosenthal has been a tireless creator of new sounds. Moving from Los Angeles to Chicago to Brooklyn over the years, Rosenthal recently settled into Portland, Oregon where he’s written and released more music in the last 4 years than in the prior 15.
This creative energy led to an album encompassing powerful personal and transpersonal themes. There’s a yearning for connection to a truer understanding of self and our potential — letting go of façade and fears, obstacles which hold us back. The lyrics emerge from the depths of the psyche addressing a desire to feel truly alive by overcoming self-imposed boundaries. They are first-person narratives at the edge where something has to give, something has to change, as the characters strive to take hold of the life they have left unlived. “I close my eyes and watch the galaxy turning” and the title track explore a consciousness-expanding understanding of the cyclical nature of existence mixed with a hunger for something eternal beyond this reality.
Non-binary porn star Mercy West portrays the androgynous alien traveler in Rosenthal’s cover photography. The deluxe crowdfunded edition, downloadable booklet, and CD booklet contain 8 pages of striking photos the duo shot at locations throughout Oregon. Rosenthal explains, “The photos reflect an attempt to externalize the feelings of isolation, alienation and longing of the lyrics. Mercy’s character is a stark representation of our struggles, lost within a larger self-defined world that attempts to limit our true nature.”
Rosenthal’s electronics, harmonium, piano, and acoustic guitar form an intimate backdrop for Herrera’s ethereal, tender, heartfelt voice and Plaster’s breathy, sensitive vocals. The emotionally-charged pieces are enhanced with appearances from drummer Brian Viglione (of The Dresden Dolls), violist Nick Shadow, multi-instrumentalist Chase Dobson. The title track features electric guitar from Walter Holland of Californian 70s space rock band Amber Route.
Closing on a sorrowful but moving note, the arpeggiated piano of the title track slows to a crawl as we drift upon the alien landscape of the startling cover imagery. To touch the milky way is a goal that might remain beyond reach; however by interpreting Sam’s lyrical suggestions, we’re encouraged to reach for it nevertheless, grasping for all that might be attainable during our brief time under the existential glow of a fading sun.