Rasputina perform with Faun Fables, on Halloween, October, 31st, 2010
I don’t remember how many years it’s been, but a buddy, well knowing my never-sated hunger for good music, handed me an LP by Strawberry Switchblade and said “I think you’ll like this”. I listened briefly, pulled the needle back up, and said “Feh!”, then yanked out copies of Cocteau Twins, Shelleyan Orphan, and Rasputina, saying “Dig these, bubba”. He came back quite enamored of Rasputina, and thus the world was made safe for eccentrically ravishing music. I did my part, he did his part, they did their part, and e’er the three did meet thenceafter and forever more.
That was, if memory serves, Rasputina’s first release. Sister Kinderhook is their 7th and most mature, vaguely akin to Lisa Gerrard’s The Mirror Pool (here), if only for an affection for elder airs and period flavors, here European and American where Gerrard’s is Middle Eastern. In fact, as “Holocaust of Giants”, the second cut, bounces in, the blend of rock with ye olde Erie Valley modes, not to mention the ELO intro and Roy Wood-esque lumbering cellos, is surprising.
In truth, just as King Crimson is Robert Fripp’s artistic alter ego, Rasputina is actually Melora Creager, for 20 years directing a cello-driven base trio, in Kinderhook incorporating the first-ever male cellist, Daniel DeJesus, and Catie D’Amica, a percussionist. Long before Apocalyptica came along and right about when Anekdoten’s Anna Sofi Dahlberg was wielding her smoothly growly stringed raspbox in that Crimsonoid band, Creager made the throaty instrument a mainstay in her delightfully demented mannered style.
What sweet refuge eccentricity can be. Creager pens tales of Emily Dickinson (Sweet Sister Temperance), feral children (Snow-Hen of Austerlitz), the rent wars of 1844 (Calico Indians) and other offbeat streaks of Americana, often encanting in a frail Marc Bolan-ish quaver, even when sideways addressing the biblical claim that giants once inhabited the Earth but, as Rasputina theorizes, genocided themselves. Makes sense to me, slaughter being an American religion and all. Can’t buck tradition, y’know, nor will you be able to easily let go of this CD, get the arcane tunes out of your head, or readily slough the delicious chill that creeps up the spine at the effulgent decadence crawling through all 14 cuts.
Edited by: David N. Pyles