Sam Rosenthal has announced the launch of the follow-up to his compelling 2007 ambient work, POD, under the artist name of As Lonely As Dave Bowman. The new album, Monolith, continues the ride to Jupiter with 2001-themed astronaut Dave Bowman. Currently, the album is available as a free digital download (via Bandcamp), with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to create an artistically presented physical version in a specialized DVD-sized, plexi-glass box. The initial limited edition version of POD was presented in the same plexi-glass casing.
If you are familiar with POD, and want to continue that experience with Monolith, you can do so by supporting the Kickstarter project linked above. Contributors will not only help bring the distribution of the project to fruition but will also receive a unique and futuristic design of the physical album. As a bonus, backers are rewarded with an additional 37 minutes of music from the Monolith sessions entitled Monolith (Addendum).
In 2007, Projekt Records’ Rosenthal, who is also the chief component of Black Tape For A Blue Girl, formed the As Lonely As Dave Bowman side project. POD was a collection of five tracks, all named “POD” (POD 01, Pod 02, etc.). The compositions were a successfully chilling experiment in ambient mood setting. Using the loneliness of space as a backdrop, POD was a merge of a drone style with a minimalist approach. After all, space is a drift, a long drift into forever. When used as a direct plug-in to the emotional devastation and void of loneliness, this employed style of drone ambient music effectively captures the eerie uselessness of a fight to regain any sense of control. That’s the tale of POD as it follows Dave Bowman through his lonely voyage toward Jupiter (as experienced in 2001: A Space Odyssey).
Recently, Sam Rosenthal has decided to revisit As Lonely As Dave Bowman. Musically, Monolith is a much darker exploration. Using the continued theme of Dave Bowman’s trek across space in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Monolith soundtracks the last four months of Bowman’s voyage to Jupiter, The music follows the period beginning with the failure of the AK-35 radio antenna and pushing through to the POD above the monolith, and ending inside the hotel suite. The four tracks impressively captures the isolation of Dave Bowman as a new reality is revealed to him. Monolith is an effective ambient continuation of Rosenthal’s first exploratory ambient work.
Sam has this to say about As Lonely As Dave Bowman, and the newest musical trip to Jupiter with Monolith:
TAP: What prompted the return to As Lonely As Dave Bowman?
Sam: I’ve been slowly working on the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album. Sometimes a piece will evolve that doesn’t fit the concept, and with some of those pieces I realize, “Hey, this is a Dave Bowman track!” The first piece on MONOLITH, and the first third of the second track, evolved like that back in 2010/11. They were kept in mind for the time when similar music came along. In a two week period last month, the rest of the album came together. Dave Bowman albums are recorded really quickly; all in one mood. Unlike Blacktape albums which often take many years, many studio sessions, and the involvement of many musicians. I think the speed with which POD and MONOLITH came together gives them a very unified sound.
TAP: Is As Lonely As Dave Bowman a project relegated only to the influenced sound-tracking of 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or do you plan to use the moniker to move beyond the Dave Bowman legacy?
Sam: I’ve asked myself that same question, Matt. It seems to me that sticking with the 2001 theme is the way to go, at least for now. The idea of space travel and isolation, is a very rich source of inspiration.
TAP: Through the years, you have changed your musical interests and styles dramatically. With many of Projekt’s releases centering more and more around ambient artists and their unique musical textures, have you decided to use MONOLITH as a springboard (more than POD) in order to concentrate more heavily on your own ambient creations and explorations?
Sam: In a sense, yes. For many many years, I made running Projekt Records my priority. Spending most of my time on the label and very little on my music. But I’ve been changing that and trying to give my music (and promotion of my music) equal time. I created a Patreon page — https://www.patreon.com/blacktapeforabluegirl — so fans could get behind my creativity. Quite honestly, I also created it so I would feel obligated to get out of the Projekt Records chair and into the studio chair. And its been working, because there’s lots of new music evolving out of this, with the MONOLITH album being the first one to see the light.
But to your question, I am still doing Black Tape For A Blue Girl, which is in the ethereal / goth / darkwave vein. I was recording a new track with the band’s violist, Grace Young, yesterday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE4G5-10_-4 . My hope is that I can release a Blacktape album every 15 to 18 months, and a new electronic ambient album every 6 to 8 months. In otherwords, I’m aiming for 2 albums of my music a year. This will be a big change from the last 10 years, where I released only 3 albums (one Blacktape, and two electronic: The Passage and POD).
TAP: Do you believe strongly in the crowd-sourcing approach to allow for the ability to present a complete work of art that might be approached differently otherwise?
Sam: I think that the old way of bands spending all their energy on one album that appeared every year or three was a brilliant concept in the era when that worked. But times have changed and all those eggs in one basket only work for some artists. For a musician like me, I don’t have the 16,000 fans who bought Remnants at the peak in the 90s. However, I do have a small and loyal group of people who really like what I do. To me, it makes sense to create more music for a smaller following.
Atists don’t have to be the isolated King in their fortress on the hill. We’re now one of the people; and that’s really great because I know the names of many listeners who love and support what I do. We email each other. We go out for coffee when they’re in town. And that’s a great new approach.
As far as a complete work of art. Yes, I still love the finished album, like MONOLITH. It’s helpful having that goal when I create. But I’m not being precious about the music, anymore. I enjoy sharing songs on Patreon while they are still unfinished, so people can check them out as they are born and evolving. Sometimes, I hear from somebody who really likes an early mix, that ten years ago I never would have shared, because I would have been insecure and though, “this song is unfinished.” I’m more relaxed about that now. Why not share it even if it isn’t finished? Or even if it’s a track that’s not quite good enough to go on an album? That way, there’s more music to enjoy.
TAP: Do you think that if people are involved more intimately in the production of the album, that they will desire the finished work more strongly?
Sam: Yes. I think the old idea of a long, secretive gestation period and then WHAM! you have the one week of street date to be a success or failure… that’s not a healthy paradigm for creativity. It’s so much about trying to write a “hit” (even if that’s a hit within an obscure genre). Now, listeners are involved, and they’re along for the experience. And they are part of the experience of making an album. That’s cool. I spend hundreds of hours in the studio on a Blacktape album. I only do that because there’s some enjoyment in hearing the music so intimately. Otherwise, it would just make me nuts to spend that much focused time on something (laughs). Bringing in those who enjoy my work seems like a great process, to share what goes into making an album.