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Oh Perilous World

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Album Review

Rasputina's steampunk approach to rock & roll — a trio of cellists influenced as much by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as by Marilyn Manson and Kronos Quartet — is so implausibly bizarre that it would be easy to overlook the band as a novelty act. Don't. Lead cellist/songwriter/mad witch Melora Creager may play up the goth queen image to the hilt, with her tightly corseted dresses and dark eyeliner, but behind the façade is a strikingly original sensibility that defies categorization. And comprehension, for that matter. Imagine Oh Perilous World then as an antiwar protest album made up of a loosely connected song suite dealing with Mary Todd Lincoln and her blimp armies, Fletcher Christian's renegade son Thursday, a children's army awaiting air ships that never arrive, the projected overthrow of Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, and a faux heavy metal political campaign chant that states "I feel that I can get behind heretical ideas and make them real." Oh, Mary Shelley, Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein make cameo appearances as well. In short, forget the linear, rational explanations and just bask in the audacity of it all. This is a universe inhabited solely by Melora Creager. Here three cellists do their best flailing imitation of Metallica on "Draconian Crackdown" as Creager, alternating between a Kate Bush coo and a Robert Plant banshee wail, sings about spectacular suicide explosions. On "We Stay Behind" she sings a sorrowful dirge about a detached wooden leg that still wears a shoe. On "A Retinue of Moons/The Infidel Is Me" she leads the band through a punk tango while moaning about "the spores of resistance." And on "Incident in a Medical Clinic" she adopts the persona of the crazed Mary Todd Lincoln and sings "Quite unbelievably I want someone to be sweet to me when I am in absolutely horrible pain." It gets weirder from there. Oh Perilous World offers the kind of cracked world-view that will either strike you as inspired eccentricity or insufferable lunacy. In either case, it's a wild ride made more palatable by a restless musical imagination. Rasputina, to their credit, remain in a category of their own, sui generis, spinning out their inscrutable tales with crazed energy and genre-mashing abandon. You're unlikely to find a stranger — or more strangely compelling — album this year.

Customer Reviews

Well Worth the Wait

Melora and company toured for some time playing a medley of songs from this album as their closer, hinting at a rock opera they were hard at work on. Those three songs, "In Old Yellowcake," "A Retinue of Moons" and "The Infidel is Me" represent quite possibly the best work ever produced by Rasputina. "Yellowcake" brings the voices of all three members in and will probably be remembered as the best song ever performed live by the trio, and the "Retinue/Infidel" combination is the most powerful closer they could ever dream of. To this day, shivers run up my spine when I hear Melora cry out its final line. Intense. The majority of the album is right on the heels of those tracks. "1816," "Champion," "Cage", "Crackdown," and "Egg" are all knockouts. What's left isn't necessarily bad, I hestitate to use that word at all, but it's so overshadowed by the towering storm of the better tracks that they feel almost out of place on this album. This isn't quite a rock opera - Melora herself compared it to a soundtrack to a stage production whose music didn't tell the whole story and you were left to fill in the pieces in the absence of the stageshow's answers. In someways this both helps and hurts OH! PERILOUS WORLD; I will concede that the lack of narrative adds to the air of mystery that has always accompanied Rasputina's work, but without knowing more of the story some of the lyrics feel hung out with little connection to the other tracks. Even with those tiny drawbacks, the weight of the stronger material demands the listener's attention and makes this album well worth the time and money spent to obtain it.

Oh what wonderful cello rock

If you like Rasputina then you need no more reason to buy this album. They've grown in sound yet stayed true to their strange cello rock roots. It goes between odd mellow to slick metal. No one wields a bow like Melora.

Oh, hapless music fans...

...who have yet to buy their first Rasputina album! To be sure, there was a distinct change in both structure and texture between Cabin Fever and Frustration Plantation, but this latest effort does well to unite the ethereal material with the rigid rows and is a fine place to start, or even restart if you've lapsed in your adoration.


Formed: 1992

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The New York City-based trio Rasputina was led by singer/songwriter Melora Creager, a classically-trained cellist who backed Nirvana on the group's final tour. In 1992, Creager placed a want ad seeking other cellists to form a rock band; among those responding was Canadian musician Julia Kent, and with the later addition of Polish native Agnieszka Rybska, Rasputina was born. The three cellists' image further developed by the addition of tightly-laced vintage Victorian costumes, their gothic chamber-pop...
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Top Albums and Songs by Rasputina

Oh Perilous World, Rasputina
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