The Upshot: The record digs deep into the band’s traditional sound, while still incorporating more recent developments and experimenting with new ones.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
There’s no better illustration of the struggles independent artists go through to fund their work than the length of time between projects, Case in point: it’s been seven years since the last black tape for a blue girl album, 2009’s 10 Neurotics (though, to be fair, only three since that record’s remix version Tenderotics). But the clouds have lifted, the sun peeks over the horizon, and These Fleeting Moments, the long-running act’s latest LP, arrives at last.
After a couple of records of groovy gothic pop, leader Sam Rosenthal returns the band to its roots here, with a lush blend of ambient electronics, classically-minded melodies and strings – even original vocalist Oscar Herrera has returned after a 17-year absence. But this is no retrenchment – instead, Rosenthal chooses the best framework for each song. Indulging in his trademark philosophical romanticism, Rosenthal gives Herrera (and his daughter Dani) austere, intimate backdrops for their emotional interpretations of his lyrics. Simple synth riffs, plangent acoustic guitars and Nick Shadow’s keening viola form the bulk of the portraits, but Brian Viglione’s drums and some widescreen arrangements add colorful accents.
Pushing at the edges of the band’s archetypal envelope, Rosenthal leads btfabg through stirring folk pop (“She’s Gone,” “One Promised Love”), neoclassical interludes (“Six Thirteen”), bright rock (“Limitless,” “Bike Shop/Absolute Zero”), prog rock-like soundscapes (“She Ran So Far Away”) and even a sort of gothic psychedelia (“Zug Köln,” featuring prominent electric guitar) – all tucked comfortably in between more traditional fare such as “Desert Rat-Kangaroo,” “Affinity” and “Please Don’t Go.” The album opens with one of Rosenthal’s most ambitious songs: the nearly 18-minute “The Vastness of Life” combines the ambient instrumental epics of his solo work with appropriately dramatic performances from Oscar Herrera into a piece that almost feels like an album on its own.
A clever move and a tricky balancing act, the record digs deep into the band’s traditional sound, while still incorporating more recent developments and experimenting with new ones. Earnest, resourceful and demanding, These Fleeting Moments easily stands as one of black tape for a blue girl’s best albums.
DOWNLOAD: “Limitless,” “Zug Köln,” “The Vastness of Life”