editor’s note: in keeping with black tape for a blue girl’s insistence on avoiding upper-case letters, this review will be written entirely using the alphabet’s lower case.
it’s not often you can believe record-label hype, but when the powers that be at projekt records call the scavenger bride, the eighth album by black tape for a blue girl, "like nothing you’ve ever heard before," they’re probably right — even though the label’s founder, sam rosenthal, is also the group’s guiding force. contemporary chamber music that’s cinematic in scope slow dances with warm, intimate and ethereal arrangements that incorporate soundscapes ranging from middle-eastern textures to neoclassical goth.
the scavenger bride is the 16-year-old band’s first concept album, and it presents a darkly romantic tale set in 1913 Prague of a bride-to-be and her various suitors from the past. inspired in part by the writings of franz kafka and the artwork of marcel duchamp, these songs boast such tempting titles as "all my lovers," "a livery of bachelors" and "the lie which refuses to die." black tape for a blue girl features four women on vocals, viola, flute, cello and violin. other instrumentation includes dulcimer and mandolin, and bret helm (audra) lends his baritone to a couple tracks while athan maroulis (spahn ranch) spins his crooning tenor on another. rosenthal creates all of the lush keyboard arrangements electronically, and few actual guitars and drums were used during this recording.
the scavenger bride is an album that requires a listener’s undivided attention and more than a cursory perusal of the detailed booklet that overflows with surreal imagery and an esoteric narrative. this is sensual, evocative and sad music that somehow still manages to lift the spirit.