~review by Mick Mercer

I daresay those of you who like your music mysterious in richly tantalising ways will already have your coy of The Scavenger Bride, the extraordinary 2002 album by Black Tape For a Blue Girl, which was a stunning work of diseased picturesque brilliance, that creaked with meticulous detail and crafty old sounds. The new album, Halo Star, from which this single is a taster, may surprise you a lot.

It is still not conventional but windows have been flung wide, letting the air in, and all gauzy curtains have been binned. There’s not much sunlight visible, because it appears to be dark everywhere, but the layering has been avoided. Things are clearer, more direct. Ostensibly detailing the importance as a character central to the album’s tale of a fallen idol this ‘Tarnished’ track is up, as ‘Damn Swan!’ will be down, but it’s just as intriguing and demanding as the Bride album. You’d imagine I might be talking of some jolly romps if the ‘difficult’ sounds are absent, but this is still disturbing music. Pinched strings slither beneath the strong vocal narrative given by Bret Audra, and the percussion is knottily abrasive, providing a sense of hovering horror. It’s like travelling a moving walkway, flanked on either side by gruesome Goyas.

‘Remnants Of A Deeper Purity’, in which Bret appears to have no nostrils, actually is a straightforward tale of some lost, enigmatic woman, details of which come back to haunt the sedate protagonist. Pretty, but inconsequential. ‘Damn Swan!’ is prettier by far, with Elsyabeth Grant’s voice stretching out over a slowly distended bass line, and it’s off-centre enough as a piece to keep you guessing what this involves.

The collective vision of such musicians should guarantee recorded magic, as well as your interest, and the album (Aug 31 release date) is special, I’ll tell you that much. It’s on a par with The Scavenger Bride, but entirely different, in most ways, which was the intention after all.