From Sam

People ask about the origin of the band name. This blog post answers that, kind of.

Marcel Duchamp


Over at Instagram I posted some photos of my Marcel Duchamp books, as well as images of the Philadelphia Museum’s 2009 catalog for Étant Donnés. BlackTape’s Aflame was included in the “Duchamp’s Legacy” section of the 448-page catalog, right below photos from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet!

Inspired by the ideas and art of French Cubist / Futurist / Conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, As one aflame laid bare by desire explores the construct of desire and eroticism. Duchamp spoke of this metaphorically within his 1912 painting “The passage from virgin to bride.” His work was concept-driven, he said that his “Bride” could be read as a diagram for the mechanism of desire. This connected with ideas I had: finding oneself swept away by the passion and intensity of desire. Let’s call it “Desire as a catalyst.” Duchamp’s idea of desire as a mechanism inspired the machine that the character encounters in the final track on the album, “The passage.” I liked this idea that desire could be charted, could be plotted on an imaginary graph — I think I looked at love in that manner for years. I was very excited to find an artist who was also submerged in these same themes in his work.

Dr. Michael R. Taylor
Marcel Duchamp: Étant Donnés catalog
(available from Amazon)

In his cover letter, Dr Taylor wrote, “P.S. Your music was inspirational to me as I wrote this book, which I very much hope you will enjoy.”

The mention:

Musicians and composers also have been drawn to Étant Donnés. The American avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist John Zorn recorded Étant Donnés (69 Paroxyms For Marcel Duchamp) … /snip/ … Like Zorn, Sam Rosenthal, the creative force behind the band Black Tape for a Blue Girl, was inspired by Duchamp’s challenge to aesthetic norms in Étant Donnés, a work that defies categorization to this day. The band’s 1999 album, As one aflame laid bare by desire, was dedicated to Duchamp and includes the song “Given (1. The Waterfall 2. The Illuminating Gas).” Its lyrics are written from the point of view of the mannequin in Étant Donnés as she contemplates her passage from Virgin to Bride:

I want to stop thinking of love,
dreaming of love, defining love
I want to feel the earth below me… ravish me.

Given: the waterfall, the illuminating gas.
The bachelors: suitors at my call.
I used to dream of love as a machine; myself as the motor, erotic energy.

I’m ready to experience this love,
to look beyond this glass, leave concept for reality.
I want to feel the water immerse me…consuming me.

I want to leave behind this lauded virginity,
to experience love, to be taken by love.
I want to feel the sunlight upon me… overpower me.

Given: the waterfall, the illuminating gas.
The cinematic blossoming: halo of the bride.
I used to diagram love as a machine; myself as the motor, erotic energy.

Oscar Herrera in the studio, 1998

Summer 1998. Oscar Herrera records with Sam at Natural Sound Studios in Miami. In the video (at YouTube) we work on two tracks from Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s As one aflame laid bare by desire: “Tell me you’ve taken another” and “Russia.”

For the last 25 years you’ve listened to Oscar’s amazing finished vocal performances on these tracks. Now watch as these 20 minutes take you behind-the-scenes into the studio to experience the process of recording: from Oscar singing in the vocal booth to the decisions we made in the control room. You witness the technique of putting together the final multi-track vocals on these songs.

Oscar commented, upon seeing the footage for the first time last week, “Nice to see this. No one really understands how long and arduous the recording process can be until they see something like this.”

◍ There are 8 days left in the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the remastered edition of Aflame. 123 backers have brought us 67% of the way. Be part of the team that helps us reach the goal. Thanks so much.

As one aflame laid bare by desire Listening Party this Saturday at Bandcamp. The album is a free download.

Vicki Richards in the studio, 1998

As part of the campaign for the As one aflame laid bare by desire Kickstarter, I’ve gone on an archeological dig through old photos, notes, audio tapes, and Hi8 video tapes from the year before the album’s release. I’ve uploaded a great find to YouTube: Vicki Richards 1998, Recording in the Studio. This clip was shot in my studio in Chicago working on two tracks from Aflame, “Given” and “Russia.” Back then I planned to make a short documentary about the recording of the album which never ended up coming together.

It’s wonderful for me to see that moment in time again. I know so intimately the music that Vicki played on the album, but to actually watch her in the studio as we recorded it? That’s incredible — seeing her play it, her expressions, and our banter while recording. I love Vicki, we always had so much fun making music together. She’s so spontaneous, such an incredible improvisor. In the middle of the clip we create a loop, Vicki played some beautiful lines over it, leading to the Prokofiev at the end of “Russia,” recorded in one take!

I honestly didn’t even remember this footage existed. It wasn’t noted on the Hi8 tape’s insert card. Watching it for the first time a few weeks ago was emotional. I never thought I’d be able to transport back 25 years to that moment. Life is all about the moment. We live it, and then store it (or forget it), it’s just not possible to live it again. Except here we are, a few minutes out of our life! I have sonically relived it so many many times while listening to Aflame, now I can relive it in a much richer way.

Vicki wrote me, “Absolutely loved seeing this! How many times have I tried to explain the process of creating and collaborating in music?! This video is a treasured piece. Thank you very much for this!”

Support the Kickstarter

We’re only 6 days into the Aflame Kickstarter and already 51% to the goal! 94 people want to make possible the remaster rerelease on lovely 2LP, CD + MD formats. Kickstarter is all or nothing, your support is most appreciated!

Kickstarter: As one aflame laid bare by desire


This is our advertisement in Big Takeover #94, June 2024

The Kickstarter for As one aflame laid bare by desire is live.

Your support will fund a remastered reissue of our 7th album from 1999 in 3 formats: 140-gram color double-vinyl, CD, and MiniDisc.

• Sourced from original 1999 DAT mixes, and original 1/2-inch 8-track analog multitrack tapes
• Digital transfer at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio
• Two tracks remixed to boost the vocals
• Remastered by Martin Bowes of Attrition
• A much warmer and pleasant version of Aflame

Philadelphia City Paper: After seven albums you’d think people would get it: Chicago’s Black Tape for a Blue Girl is not a Goth band; at least not in the usual sense. Ambient electronic master Sam Rosenthal and his usual consorts, flautist Lisa Feuer, violinist Vicki Richards, vocalists Julianna Towns and Oscar Herrera, create ethereal chamber music. Like Dead Can Dance, Black Tape for a Blue Girl dramatically flirts with symphonic decay. The music is brightly lit and subtly melodic; forlorn chords arch and bend, the drama giving way to auburn radiance. Lyrics are brief, flashed snapshots concentrating on desire’s transitive elements. Passages of chamber orchestration are held together by Rosenthal’s ambient drone of electronic instrumentation, tape loops and verbal rumblings. The reedy melodies are best heard behind soprano Juliana Townes and Rosenthal’s whispers. Black Tape for a Blue Girl have reached a perfect spot – a record where darkness and light play as one, where ethereal music and personal obsessions meet and mingle with passion and dignity. – a.d. amorosi

No Songs Tomorrow – Darkwave, Ethereal Rock & Coldwave 1981-1990 (4CD Box Set)

In May of 2023, Cherry Red Records asked me to contribute “Within these walls” to a 4CD Darkwave compilation. I decided to offer them a new mix as well as the original mix, and they could pick which they preferred. I was motivated to try the new mix because I wanted to dive into the original 1986 Fostex cassette 4-track master to see what I could do with it. This was an experiment towards the idea of creating a new mix of the entire The Rope album for the 40th anniversary in 2026.

The mix turned out really nice, you can hear a lot more detail; and it’s what they used in the 4CD Box Set. “Within these walls” is track 3 on Disc One. You can purchase No Songs Tomorrow – Darkwave, Ethereal Rock And Coldwave 1981-1990 from Projekt in the USA, or Cherry Red in Europe.

The track is a free download at BlackTape’s Bandcamp. It’s a two-song single that also has a 2024 mix of “Seven days till sunrise.” Listen at Spotify.

New mixes of two tracks from THE ROPE

★ NAME-YOUR-PRICE DOWNLOAD AT BANDCAMP
1. Within these walls (2024 mix)
2. Seven days till sunrise (2024 mix

2024 mixes of two tracks off 1986’s debut The Rope. The 2024 mixes are more distinct, you can hear all the parts clearly. Oscar and I think these versions are an improvement, even if perhaps it loses some of the “charm” of the poorly recorded & mixed 1986 version (I mixed the entire album in two hours back in the day. That’s unheard of!)

In May of 2023, Cherry Red Records asked me to contribute “Within these walls” to a 4CD Darkwave compilation. I decided to offer them a new mix as well as the original mix, and they could pick which they preferred. I was motivated to try the new mix because I wanted to dive into the original 1986 Fostex cassette 4-track master to see what I could do with it. This was an experiment towards the idea of creating a new mix of the entire THE ROPE album for the 40th anniversary in 2026.

Streaming at SpotifyAppleYouTubePandora • etc

Here’s the collection:
No Songs Tomorrow – Darkwave, Ethereal Rock And Coldwave 1981-1990
4CD Box Set From Projekt or Cherry Red.

S T A Y T U N E D :

I launch my next Kickstarter on June 18. It’s the 2LP/CD/MD edition of 1999’s As one aflame laid bare by desire. “A symphonic mix of poetic vocals and ethereal atmosphere.” — L.A. Weekly

As one aflame laid bare by desire (25th anniversary Kickstarter)


In mid-June, I’m launching the Kickstarter for the remastered 2LP / CD edition of 1999’s As one aflame laid bare by desire. If you’d like to be notified when the Kickstarter is live, click sr.projekt @ gmail.com to create a message in your email browser.

Earlier this year I digitized the album’s 1/2-inch 8-track multi-track master tapes at Electrical Audio; I also digitized all my DAT tapes from that era, with early song ideas, demo recordings + the final mixes. My generous patrons provided the funds to do the tape transfers; they’re listening to exclusive digital albums of the DAT tapes. You can hear them too by becoming a $5 a month Patron.

Right now, Martin Bowes from Attrition is mastering the album; I made new mixes of two tracks that needed the vocals a bit louder. I’m prepping the Kickstarter for June. Stay tuned! Sam

Oscar Herrera’s “Father Whiskey”


Black Tape For A Blue Girl vocalist Oscar Herrera will soon release his first solo album, Songs For The Fallen Mountain King. He’s created a video posted at YouTube for the track “Father Whiskey,” which is his submission for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest. Oscar’s daughter, and Black Tape For A Blue Girl vocalist, Danielle sings on the track.

It’s really cool, give it a look/listen!

Songs For The Fallen Mountain King is now available for preOrder at Oscar’s Bandcamp Page

Sam guests on Nordic Patterns


Hi. I guest on a track on the new release from Arin Aksberg, Nordic Patterns. He’s a 23-year-old musician from Alta Norway, and this is his second release on Projekt.

You can hear me on track #8, “Homecoming.” The album is a name-your-price download at Bandcamp, and it’s great!

Late last year Arin began sending me (as the guy at Projekt) tracks he was working on for the new album. When I heard “Homecoming” I thought I could add some “lead” synths to give it an additional texture, a human-esque randomness to complement the driving, sequenced emotions of the piece.

I start at 1:37 with the retro sounding Waldorf Streichfett String Synthesizer Desktop Module. At 2:02 I add in an ascending glide played on my ancient Moog Concertmate MG-1 (I keep getting it repaired, and then the next time I try to play it, it’s broken again. At least I got a bit out of it.) I play throughout the rest of the track, checking out at 5:27 when the piece breaks down to the quiet ending. I’m not usually a gear-guy, but thought you might enjoy these details. : )

I’m playing a lot more notes than you usually hear me play in Black Tape For A Blue Girl. I think it’s got a bit of an 80s vibe going on? You tell me who you hear.

Terrace of Memories (2024 remaster)

Sam Rosenthal & vidnaObmana: Terrace of Memories (1992) (2024 remaster)

My organic ambient album of longing and gentle melancholic minimalism, in collaboration with Dirk Serries. Four physical formats + Name-Your-Price download at BlackTape’s Bandcamp. In Europe order from Dirk’s Bandcamp (MD sold out in Europe, but I have some left here in the USA)…

ALLES SO SCHÖN STILL HIER by Nils Wortmann
(a 2021 book of the 100 best ambient albums from 1975 to 2020):
Behind the project name TERRACE OF MEMORIES is the American Sam Rosenthal, founder of the label Projekt Records, and the Belgian Dirk Serries, who has made a name for himself in ambient circles especially under the pseudonym vidnaObmana. The result of this unique collaboration is five pieces of haunting ambient compositions, which on the self-titled album create a perfect symbiosis of the darkwave sounds of Rosenthal’s Black Tape For A Blue Girl and the cool beauty of vdnaObmana’s early works. With words like gloominess or haunting one can try to approach the compositions on TERRACE OF MEMORIES but they do not really hit the mark. It is better to simply marvel at how the album unfolds such an enchanting and devastating power right from the beginning with so few elements on “These Ancient Halls.” A nice start to this timeless album, which Rosenthal says took quite a long time to create. I guess it was Serries who sent Rosenthal a few recordings on tape, and Rosenthal in turn the one who continued to work on the recordings on the 8-track. Since the further exchange of the tapes happened before the times of the internet and was done by mail, the album was finally completed in 1992 due to the longer waiting times. The wait was truly worth it. The pieces that follow captivate with warm, futuristic and evenly gentle gloomy tones. The album culminates in the 17-minute “Of Silent Crossings” in a final expansive sound painting, which you can’t get enough of. Is it conducive for meditation? Maybe. Nevertheless, it is conceivably unsuitable for yoga classes, because the music invites you to an emotional sound journey. It seems that there will be no further collaboration in the near future. Serries, who found his way to ambient music via industrial, has meanwhile arrived in free jazz and runs his own jazz label. Rosenthal is also involved in his various band projects and his label. What remains is this timeless album.

The Big Takeover #93

Everything is name-your-price!

U P D A T E    F R O M    S A M

A few months ago I changed all digital albums on the black tape for a blue girl Bandcamp page to Name-Your-Price. I'm sure I told everyone about this (????) but now I cannot find an email list about it. Maybe I was dreaming? If so here's a reminder. Grab everything you want, leave a little something if you can…

When you donate even a dollar, the album is added to your personal Bandcamp collection, available for streaming and download. When you choose zero, you can download, but the album will not be added to your Bandcamp collection.

I've mailed most of the Terrace of Memories CDs and MDs to the Kickstarter backers. LPs expected in November/December. After those ship to supporters all formats will be on sale at Bandcamp.


I've finally uploaded FAITH, my 4.5-minute 8mm student film, to YouTube. I shot and edited it at college in Orange California in 1987 while recording Black Tape For A Blue Girl's MESMERIZED BY THE SIRENS. Actors were my college friends: Miira Ojanen & Dimitri Patakidis. Some of their Greek + Finnish dialog, and a bit of the synths, ended up on the album.

Have a great weekend, Sam<

Listening Party: Mesmerized by the sirens

•  U P D A T E   F R O M   S A M   R O S E N T H A L  •

Join Oscar, myself and fans of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Let’s get together virtually to listen to the 2023 Mix of Mesmerized by the sirens and chat; it’s a text-only chat on the right side of the screen, there’s no camera, no stress. I hosted a listening party for Terrace of Memories in July and we had a really a good time. Hang out with other fans of the music from around the world, chat with everyone, ask questions, share whatever you want to talk about.

Mesmerized-era vocalist Oscar Herrera will be with us.

September 21, 2023
7pm West Coast / 10pm East Coast / 2am GMT / Noon Sydney AUS

RSVP for the Listening Party

The chat window opens 30 minutes before the album begins playing and runs 30 minutes after. Mesmerized has a bonus disc, but don't feel you need to stick around the whole time. The 10-song album will be done at 10:45 pm East Coast, then it’s on to the 10 bonus tracks.

Hope to see you there,
Sam

Purchase the CD, LP, MD or Name-Your-Price download at:
blacktapeforabluegirl.bandcamp.com

Terrace of Memories, final days

•  U P D A T E   F R O M   S A M  •


LP Jacket design file, sent to the printer

Hello. There’s 46 hours to go in the Kickstarter for the remastered edition of my 1992 ambient collaboration with vidnaObmana, Terrace of Memories. Join us in creating this physical release in three formats: 140-gram color vinyl (two color variations), CD, and MiniDisc.

The goal was reached and the first stretch goal has nearly been met as well, but we’re not finished here just yet! For the remaining hours the campaign page serves as a preOrder page — new backers are coming on board to join the team that made this possible.

There are 178 backers as I write this. Join us!

Stream & download the remastered album for free at Bandcamp.


Kickstarter backer TC writes:
“I'm so glad to see this campaign has been successful. Terrace of Memories is my all-time favorite ambient work, even more than anything by Eno. On Land comes close… but not quite.”

That's really high praise, thanks! Dirk & I both love hearing how much you enjoy our creation. Thanks to everyone who cares for and believes in Terrace of Memories. All of you made this possible.

Thanks to all who've pledged the Kickstarter. I look forward to a few more joining with us in the next 46 hours.

Mesmerized by the Sirens CD / LP / MD now shipping

After a successful Kickstarter earlier this year Mesmerized by the sirens is now available in all formats (LP, CD, MiniDisc & Name-Your-Price download) from our Bandcamp Store. Look for it at all streaming & download sites on the August 25th release date.

Black Tape For A Blue Girl: Mesmerized by the sirens

2CD in 6-panel digipak. 140-gram vinyl in two colors. CD and LP at Projekt European Webstore. Name-Your-Price download and all formats at Bandcamp.

“Sadly nostalgic of your loneliest days, gently disturbing music that sends your mind adrift on an ocean of reflection.” — Bside Magazine

More than a reissue, it’s a restoration! This new mix of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s ethereal, evocative and existential 1987 second album flows upon its haunting thread, revealing the heart of its lush dreamscape atmospheres. Sue-Kenny Smith’s lovely British vocals float upon Sam Rosenthal’s electronic and organic darkwave, tempting within their lush mystery. Oscar Herrera’s passionate, powerful voice propels the majority of the tracks with “The sawdust scatter” capturing a late-80s goth rock aura. Rosenthal’s precise new mix — sourced from the original half-inch 8-track tapes — highlights an album even more enchanting than when first released.

Fire of Renewal writes on Bandcamp: A cherished return to times long gone, the pilgrim of nostalgia remembers. The bittersweet tears flow in heartbreak and ecstasy simultaneously. Such a great album.