Since their inception in 1986, Black Tape for a Blue Girl have been one of the most undersung, but persistent pleasures on the more delicate side of the post-punk spectrum. Helmed by Projekt Records leader Sam Rosenthal, the project has shed its skin several times, evolving over the course of twelve excellent records as well as a series of EPs, singles, and collaborative projects. BlackTape is also keen on celebrating anniversaries, releasing expanded editions of their classic record for new audiences to discover. The latest on the slab is 1989’s classic Ashes in the Brittle Air, which is receiving the deluxe reissue treatment by way of Kickstarter.
Ashes in the Brittle Air is Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s third full-length record, and finds the band expanding on their ambient and neoclassical influences to incorporate more dark swagger, most noticeable on key track “Across a Thousand Blades,” which kicks the band’s deliciously glacial tempo into overdrive and remains both a fan favorite and club staple across the globe. The album also occasionally flirts with British folk passages, yet is still unmistakably their own fusion of sound, with intensely soulful synth swirls, a blend of existential and deeply romantic lyrics, and a series of vocalists, including frequent collaborators Sue-Kenny Smith, ex-Sleep of Reason vocalist Oscar Herrera, Walter Holland, and Rosenthal himself.
The expanded edition of the album will be released in 2CD, digital, and single LP editions, each containing a fresh remaster of the record, which as per Rosenthal’s own words adds clarity and depth to the instruments and vocals, “yet it retains that dreamy, romantic quality I remember from the 80s.” The second disc includes a series of unheard tracks left on the cutting room floor, a handful of demos, some of which show the evolution of “Across a Thousand Blades” across takes. A new mix of the track, utilizing all instrumentation from 1989, is also included to sweeten the pot.
People often tell me that Ashes was the first time they heard my band. I love hearing their stories of emotional and personal connection to these tracks and those times; how the music was there for them during a crisis, or break up, or loss. So I’m really thrilled that I can give people 6 never-before-released songs from the era. The bonus tracks are a time capsule of that specific 80s lush, ethereal BlackTape sound.
For those unfamiliar with the LP, BlackTape is also offering a free download of the 2019 master via Bandcamp, which gives listeners the chance to discover the album on its own merits before diving in to support the work in full. We certainly encourage you all to have a listen or three, and then head over to Kickstarter to support the project and enjoy many of the perks that come with your support.
May 1988 | Sam in Paula’s living room talking on the phone with Lak.