Hi. It’s Sam from Black Tape For A Blue Girl. We’re just 8 days from the end of the crowdfunding campaign for The Cleft Serpent; it’s 63% funded. 182 people have contributed to make this possible. I’m creating 5 formats: LP, 2CD, Cassette, MiniDisc and Digital. It takes a lot of cash to manufacture all of that (and the additional perks backers receive), which is why I am asking for your support. The next week will spent on the hard work of connecting with fans of my music to raise the $5,500 that will push us over the goal. Donate if you can. If you can’t afford to, I get it. Spreading the word really helps as well (use #TheCleftSerpent so I can find and share your post.)
I enjoy this time during the crowdfunding campaign. I get out of my introspective space and interact with people from around the world. It’s not the ego strokes of your comments I like so much as knowing how my music intersects with your lives.
V.R. wrote me on Facebook: “I love the lyricism of your songs. Deep and beautiful. They beat in my soul.” J.S.E. wrote: “Just wanted to say that Remnants of a Deeper Purity is the first goth album I ever bought, as a 16 yo French girl in Paris. Time flies.” And C.G. from Mexico wrote: “I love!!! Black tape for a blue girl 😍😍😍😍 ”
The Cleft Serpent is an elegant, heartfelt and tragic torch song to humanity. The eight neoclassical tracks evoke a sense of worldly entanglement, taking the listener through a series of interconnected pieces charged with emotional honesty. It’s a dark and beautiful work from Black Tape For A Blue Girl.
I’m so happy with our new album. The music and story excites me, yet I’ll admit it is hard (as the artist) to write about the piece. Fortunately for me (and you!), I’ve connected with a fan who is an amazing writer. Below the fold, I’ve posted his album description that we’ve been working on back and forth the last few days. It really captures the spirit of the album, much better than my attempts to talk about it.
Here’s something I’ve been working on: I connected with a UK-based comic artist Andy Radbourne and asked if he’d create a page from an imaginary The Cleft Serpent graphic novel. This is Andy’s first sketch, showing an idea of the characters together. I will share more soon. Follow Andy’s work on Instagram:
INTO THE COILS OF THE SERPENT
Longtime fan Jeffrey’s impressions of the album:
The Cleft Serpent is an elegant, heartfelt and tragic torch song to humanity. Vast in scope and ambition, the album presents a mature and fascinating musing on love, death and desire. The eight neoclassical tracks evoke a sense of worldly entanglement, taking the listener through a series of interconnected pieces charged with emotional honesty. It’s a dark and beautiful work, the 13th album from Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and the first appearance of vocalist Jon DeRosa and cellist Henrik Meierkord, joining the electronics of songwriter Sam Rosenthal.
With the opening of The Cleft Serpent we are introduced to a world-weary, eternal, devil-like figure — almost a narrator, almost a protagonist — who shape-shifts across the album’s multiple eras and locales, guiding the listener through stories of loss, longing and doomed love into a deeply personal tale cast on an almost cosmic scale. Here we find a character who, far from the proud and defiant Lucifer we find in Milton and Blake, comprises a cursed figure, achingly self-aware, fated to inflict pain, yet weary of pain and destruction; an ageless soul regrets the repetition and endless flow of time, bound to the one he loves, yet driven to destroy. He is coldly unsympathetic to the weakness of humanity, yet fascinated by the tragic beauty of human life. Here we have a figure who seems to inhabit an endless and indifferent universe, who unpacks himself and lays himself bare with honesty and transpersonal insight as he struggles to come to terms with the destruction and darkness around him, much of it by his own hand. This figure is drawn out of his introspection and existential malaise by the gravitational forces of his bond to earthly passion and folly into a fractured, chaotic and ultimately disintegrating love story.
Throughout The Cleft Serpent, as we tour empty battlefields, ancient villas, modern Times Square, and underground crime scenes, all suffused with moments of passion and tragedy and inner turmoil, we come to know aspects of a turbulent and ill-fated relationship between the Serpent and the Trickster which form a major centerpiece of the work. Elements of this liaison seamlessly emerge and disappear like fragmented thoughts and half-forgotten memories. They could be different stories, they could be one story; at times it feels like the Serpent’s ardor for all of humanity is personified by this love between two men. In describing the contours of this complex relationship, the album offers an enlightened, and mature and thoroughly modern view of love and gender and sexuality in the 21st century. Here we are presented with friendship, devotion and affection between two self-described ‘punks’ and tricksters that recalls the chaotic love between the poets Rimbaud and Verlaine explored with a psychological depth and subtlety without comparison in the world of music today. We are talking about a band whose work has always celebrated sexuality and gender identities existing outside heteronormative structures, and here this shines brightly like a glimmering star in an otherwise bleak and lifeless sky.
The companionship appears and disappears throughout the album then breathlessly bursts out in a gripping, evocative finale, “I’m The One Who Loses,” a Tarantino-esque crime thriller narrative that has a lyrical beauty and intensity all its own. It is through this rare and beautiful entanglement, as all the fragments and all the threads come together, that we see the microcosm and the macrocosm of ideas presented by the album merge and collapse in the breathless and tragic final moments.
This album is drawn together by Jon DeRosa’s vocal performance. A smoky, grief-stricken voice possessing inner strength, full of hidden layers and turmoil. This performance captures the core of the album: a broken-hearted soul trying to come to terms with the pain and mystery of life. His vocals give the lyrics’ touching and ambitious philosophical explorations a sense of emotional honesty, gravity and self-awareness. Jon’s performance is operatic and soulful, crooning, and cabaret-inspired, almost a new dark musical theatre. This singular performance draws no easy comparisons; it is truly a beast unto itself.
Soundscapes constructed from Henrik Meierkord strings and Rosenthal’s flickering electronics awaken a vast sense of scale, of universal grandeur. The tracks are driven by a mournful and somber string performance that presents us a second voice or a character of its own. The cello-viola-violins have a yearning intensity and melodic sorrow that reflect back upon the characters of the story and seem bound within the orbit of their inner lives. The melodies appear and disappear like remnants of stories, glittering like sparks in the darkness. Within a light patina of Rosenthal’s electronics the soundscapes stretch out into infinity; sometimes a note will transform and take on a grand and spectral kind of beauty and intensity and scale. Never before has Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s strings and electronics been more beautifully and masterfully intertwined. The album’s complex and layered composition seductively draws the listener into itself, deep into serpent-like coils, inviting multiple explorations, unlocking a sense of interconnectedness and unity and purpose in its tapestry-like construction.
It is hard to find ready comparisons to Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s music. You are talking about a band with its own storied 35-year history to reflect back upon, a band with a profound and enduring influence on the world of gothic music. This is a band that can look into its own past, though through the years has never been afraid to adapt, and grow, and experiment, and explore new places and ideas while still managing to stay true to themselves. If you had to draw comparisons you could talk about the folk- and classical music- inspired gothic music of the 90s, you could talk about film scores, you could talk about dark cabaret music and chamber music. It is probably more accurate to talk about literary influences. The mind is drawn to the philosophical and metaphysical and transpersonal preoccupations of a late-period Burroughs, or the Decadent poets, or the Existentialists as a much better fit than trying to compare it to any music out there right now.
The Cleft Serpent presents listeners with a thoroughly original and thoughtful gothic torch song to humanity that embraces all the tragedy, heartache, loss and chaos of our lives. It is the perfect album for these times: just dark enough, just introspective enough, just emotional enough. Life, with all its longing, ennui and contradiction is narrowed down to the beautiful, touching and painful interaction of two flawed souls that alight in the scorched dreams of acceptance, transcendence and annihilation.
Jon DeRosa is a singer, songwriter, and musician. Since 1993 he’s released music across a variety of genres beginning with the minimal ambient-folk outfit Fade, and soon after the dark folk ensemble Dead Leaves Rising. DeRosa’s most prolific musical project is Aarktica, a guitar-based ambient ensemble of which he has been the sole permanent member since 1998. DeRosa will release new solo music in 2022, and he’s currently composing music for film.
Henrik Meierkord’s main instrument is the cello. Within his ambient music he experiments with neoclassical, indie, and kraut rock genres, working to assist the listener in finding their own emotion and setting for contemplation. He’s released four albums of his music, the most recent January 2021 :Kval on the Dutch Ambientologist label. For Meierkord, music serves as therapy and balsam for the soul.
Sam Rosenthal is the founder of Projekt Records and since 1986, the sole permanent member of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Over the course of 13 albums as songwriter, band leader, and darkwave visionary, Rosenthal has guided the band through a variety of genres, all enveloped within a dark, contemplative lyricism.