In 1993 Sam Rosenthal (Black Tape For A Blue Girl) started an Indie label that combined a love of Dreampop, Ambient, Shoegaze, and Dark Cabaret. It began as a vehicle for his own band, but through a decerning eye towards the future highlighted eclectic new sounds we are celebrating four decades later. I discovered Projekt in college branching out for colder, darker sounds than Dead Can Dance and similar world beat shadow folk. With bands like Black tape, Voltaire, Love Spirals Downward, Attrition, and Lycia early Projekt sampler cd’s were fertile ground for a young mind exploring the boundaries of darkscene music.
For 40 years Projekt and weaved and bobbed changing focus and embracing new technology in the music industry. With Mini Disc, MP3’s, even a resurgence in discord vinyl Sam has flowed with the tide to bring new fans to music which otherwise may not have seen the light of day.
The first band Sam signed was Dark Industrial legend ATTRITION. with several records already out, they brought a blend of intelligent punk ethos, electronic textural ambiance, and ice cold rage. Martin Bowes would find an international audience still captivated today. This also awakened Sam, fresh out of college to the realization the record lable would consume his life the next couple years.
Lycia from Arizona would be the first band “discovered” by Projekt. I first found them through Burning Circle and The Dust. A haunting, memorizing, slushy burnt pastel sounds. Submerged ethereal vocals that wrapped around every sense. Eventually they would go on to form their own label. Releasing new material in March 2022 which I reviewed. These early Projekt records that put them on the map will always be my rain-streaked dorm window memories.
I don’t want to go any further without talking about the other band that drew me into Projekt, Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Another major nostalgia band that opened my eyes wider to the idea that what we think of today as “Trad Goth” or “Post Punk” was the end of the conversation when it came to darkscene music. Things could be elegant. Darkness, pain, and regret could be beautiful feelings that explored the human experience. “The Rope” from 1986 held a particular majesty, with Oscar Herrera‘s strange cadence and David Bryne clarity paved a new road in my mind for what was possible. Four decades later Sam is still finding ways to explore sonic paths not taken.
Another Projekt band that had a major influence on me was California Stargaze ethereal band Love Spirals Downward. Guitar layered woven tapestry and warm blanket harmonies. Songs that offered comfort and jump started deeper dreaming. Extra shoutout that Jennifer Wilde of Sword Tongue did additional vocals on my favorite album of theirs Ardor.
As someone who makes “comedy goth” Projekt records artist Aurelio Voltaire opened my eyes to what was possible with dark music. Clever gallows humor and rapier wit blended with eastern traveler instrumentation was a fantasy idea that captured my imagination. I recently interviewed Aurelio and doing preparation research found I still knew every lyric on “The Devils Bris“. A true shadow bard that transcended music style in favor of narrative craft. This troubadour set trends that paved the way for everything I am trying to accomplish today.
This has been an enjoyable memorandum as well as a glimpse into the future for a label that has helped define modern darkscene music. Rather you want to rediscover these updated releases of the past. Or explore the Projekt artists of the future, Sam has left an undeniable mark on out scene. I encourage everyone to delve into this rich tapestry of sonic narrative and celebrate 40 years of Projekt Records.