Back in 1996, I stumbled upon a Columbia release from a band of 3 girls named Rasputina. Their bent on rock was their use of stringed instruments, namely cello to create their goth-tinged music. But they proved to be far more interesting than that. With their first album, Thanks for the Ether, they pushed the boundaries of rock out a little more. Their second album, How We Quit the Forest, proved that this band had the talent and the musical goods to sustain a decent and effective career for them. For the musically adventurous, they were quite good. But then they dropped out of sight…and sound. Or so I thought. Recently, a press release rolled by touting the musical abilities of Rasputina and I was shocked to learn that they have never really strayed too far, dropping 3 albums far too low on the radar for me to have noticed.
The band consists of three cellists, two who are not the same personnel as the Columbia releases. The originator, Melora Creagor, is still here but gone are original pack, Julie Kent and Agnieszka Rybska, as well as subsequent placements of Bornant and Cowperthwaite. The band now consists of mainstay visionist, Creagor, and Jonathon TeBeest. They will be joined by Sarah Bowman for their support tour. Zoe Keating, one of the other components of the band has left to pursue other aspirations.
Their newest album, referred to as Rasputina’s Oh Perilous World, is a stunning work, better than I could have hoped for since I last heard them on their 2 Columbia albums. Obviously I cannot compare this album to the post-Columbia works; however, if this album is any indication, Creagor has matured musically by leaps and bounds. Full of harmonies and a heady blend of cello classicism and rock ‘n’ roll, Oh Perilous World is a transcendent trip into the true alt-rock world. A reasonable comparison is the rock-cabaret of Dresden Dolls in style.
Most of these songs depend on a base of cellos, but there are a few that use the cellos as secondary instruments. “Choose Me For Your Champion” is a strong rocker as is “Incident in a Medical Clinic.” But the splendid mix of piano, drums, cleverly played cellos that can sound like guitars , and the up-front cellos allows Rasputina to stand out.
Remember, Rasputina will not ring everyone’s bell. You’ll have to be adventurous to fully enjoy the type of “cello-rock” that Rasputina plays. But if you are, Oh Perilous World is an album of excellence and perfection. Rasputina is masterful. I’ll be paying a lot closer attention from here on out. And Oh Perilous World is a fine place to start for newcomers. Be sure to check out their MySpace page.