Black Tape for a Blue Girl

As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire

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For this album, Lucian Casselman is out and A Chaos of Desire-era vocalist Juliana Towns is back. While the lineup returns to the more collective sense of performances from past albums, core performers Sam Rosenthal and Oscar Herrera, along with flautist Lisa Feuer (who adds a fine new dimension to the general instrumental approach), still have Vicki Richards on violin on various tracks, but Mera Roberts only plays on one song while other guests perform oboe, harpsichord and other instruments. After the marvelous Remnants of a Deeper Purity, As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire lacks a little something in comparison. The trademark lushness of performance and instrumentation remains, and both Herrera and Towns, as well as Rosenthal, discharge their vocal duties as well as always (aside from the opening title track, which Rosenthal sings somewhat awkwardly). Still, too many pieces veer toward the tastefully anonymous at points, while the lyrical focus on Marcel Duchamp's work "The Bride Stripped Bare," though intriguing, almost turns the album into a running essay rather than a series of songs. This said, there is still a number of strong, focused pieces, including the Apollo-era Eno evocative "The Apotheosis" and "Russia" (which quotes the same Prokofiev line as Sting's "Russians," but much less obnoxiously). "The Green Box," meanwhile, contains the classic sense of brooding electronic menace and beauty, heightened by Richards' violin, which has so often defined Black Tape's most successful work.

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