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Rasputina


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Experimental, Gothic alternative rock with several spoken word performance art-style pieces.

Status:

Most recent release, Unknown (2014)

See also:

Melora Creager's site

Wikipedia's entry on Rasputina

The Ectophiles' Guide's entry for Melora Creager's solo work

Comparisons:

miranda sex garden, blackgirls

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, but frequent covers

General comments:

three cellists and drums. i've heard these folks advertised as real "classic" rock (ha ha). the line-up sounds like a good sales gimmick, doesn't it? it's actually pretty decent stuff, and not as much of a shock as the marketing folks would like for ectophiles familiar with either miranda sex garden or blackgirls. still, hearing all the usual lead guitar/rhythm guitar/bass guitar parts played on cellos is a trip and the tunes are really dense and off-kilter. (woj@smoe.org)

Okay, well obviously not everyone is going to like the music of this group. Will you? Hard to say. I love Rasputina (all except the ghastly remixes "Transylvanian Regurgitations" done by Marilyn Manson—or was I supposed to hate them because they sound just like their title and I loved the original song, "Transylvanian Concubine"), and find their albums delightful every time I listen to them. They're delightfully snide and sarcastic. They get compared to miranda sex garden and blackgirls. Well, for the record I don't like miranda sex garden but I love the blackgirls. If you like either of these bands or just want to try something different, I recommend giving Rasputina a try. There are sound clips at their official Rasputina site.
     They did a wild and wonderful cover of "Brand New Key" on their first album and conveyed the utter strangeness of the lyrics beautifully. I love all of Rasputina (except the aforementioned remix ep) but their covers are especially inspired. (Neile)

Comments about live performance:

Rasputina has at least one more fan; I really enjoyed the show last night. The Gerlinger Lounge turned out to be a very appropriate location; its turn-of-the-century architecture fit right in with Rasputina's neo-Victorian imagery. Melora Creager is funny and very talented. (10/02, stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Recommended first album:

Any

Recordings:


Thanks for the Ether

Release info:

1996—Sony/Columbia Records—CK 67504

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

High for lovers of the strange

Group members:

Melora Creager—cello and vocals
Julia Kent—cello
Carpelia Parvo—cello

Guest artists:

Norman Block—drums

Produced by:

Jimmy Boyle and Melora Creager

Comments:

What a delight this strange album is! An album I truly just enjoy, and have since it first came out. It seems just as fresh six years on, still creative, funny, delightful. One of my favourite albums of 1996. (Neile)

Three cellos, no waiting. Completely unlike anything I've ever heard. And it works. (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)

I thought it was a pretty damned cool album. (meth@smoe.org)

I was surprised by the depth and variety of the multi-cello arrangements, and thought the vocals were strong and appealing. (neal)

Every so often I rush out and buy something because it sounds like a neat idea or read a good review or something, but haven't ever heard it. This was one of those. 3 girl cellists—all do vocals? Sounds great! Luckily I found this used. This album does nothing for me but motivate me to get my butt off the couch and take it out of the CD player as quickly as possible. Somewhat reminiscent of blackgirls, or Miranda Sex Garden, but with both those bands I felt compelled to listen to it until it grew on me. For some reason, I feel I don't want to grow to like this album. The lyrics seem trite, silly, and just plain obnoxious. 3 teenage goth girls bitch and moan and try to be as dark and disturbing as they can. I personally couldn't find anything redeeming in this album, but maybe I'm just missing the boat. I'm sure some here would like it. Anyway, I think this CD holds the record for the shortest time in my collection before getting placed in the "if I ever decide to sell some CDs these are the first to go" pile. (jjhanson@att.net)


How We Quit The Forest

Release info:

1998—Sony/Columbia Records—CK 68954

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

High for lovers of the strange

Group members:

Melora Creager—cello and vocals
Julia Kent—cello
Agnieszka Rybaska—cello
Chris Vrenna—drums and programming

Produced by:

Chris Vrenna and Melora Creager

Comments:

This starts off more noisy/dissonant than their first album, Thanks for the Ether, and at first I was worried that I wasn't going to like it as much, but after the first few songs it sounds like more Thanks for the Ether. Delightful, especially their cover of "You Don't Own Me". Ha! This is another album that has worn well for me over time. (Neile)

jury's still out; initially disappointed, but we'll see. (lissener@wwa.com)


The Lost & Found (ep)

Release info:

2001—RPM Records—R2843

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

High for lovers of the strange

Produced by:

Mike Viola

Comments:

Five inspired covers: Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll", The Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties", the children's song "This Little Piggy" (yes, really), Marilyn Manson's "Tourniquet", and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". All five of these are dolourous, unique, and wonderful takes. Definitely worth ordering from their website. Bizarrely wonderful covers in that distinctive Rasputina fashion. (Neile)

At long last they return. Great covers. "This little piggy" is hilarious. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Cabin Fever

Release info:

2002—instinct records—INS599-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

High for lovers of the strange

Group members:

Melora Creager—vocals, cello, dulcimer, piano, drum programming
K. Cowperthwaite—cello, backing vocals
Nan Bornant—cello, backing vocals

Produced by:

Melora Creager

Comments:

Not much different musically from How We Quit The Forest, but then I didn't expect it to be. The funny lyrics and comedic bits are the highlight. This one has a great skit about a double date between two guys and PJ Harvey and Björk. The cd booklet is exquisite, like Victorian porn and Beatrix Potter pictures all mixed up together. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

I love this as much as their previous discs, though I do find the aforementioned skit tiresome and have skipped it since my first listen to the disc. Otherwise, this is full of strange, beautiful, and amusing moments. I can't get enough of their sound. (Neile)

I got this at the show Rasputina did at the University of Oregon, and I enjoyed both the show and the CD immensely. Sometimes hard-edged, sometimes ethereal, sometimes whimsical, and always original. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)


Frustration Plantation

Release info:

2004—instinct—ins620-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Melora Creager—vocals, cello, dulcimer
Zoë Keating—cello, vocals
Jonathon TeBeest—drums, percussion

Guest artists:

Joseph Bishara—drum programming

Produced by:

Joseph Bishara & Melora Creager

Comments:

This disc starts with one of Rasputina's strangest most discordant songs, "Doomsday Averted": weird and unsettling. A good way to start any recording of Rasputina's music. This is followed immediately with the brilliantly scratchy/catchy "Secret Message", a wonderful song that immediately sticks in the head like an old favourite. I love how they always sound like they're going to tumble over the edge of being too over-the-top, but when they do you have to love it, they do it with such verve. Discordant or catchy (or discordant and catchy) they rock. Whether singing about the "Possum of the Grotto" or "Wicked Dickie" who "ran for his life just to get to his cow." Or the spoken word piece "My Captivity By Savages". Irresistable. (Neile)

A Radical Recital

Release info:

2005—instinct—FB3001-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Rasputina fans

Group members:

Melora Creager, Zoë Keating, Jonathon TeBeest

Produced by:

Josh Grier

Comments:

This draws a lot from Frustration Plantation, but also has songs from the rest of their works, and a few terrific covers, like their version of Led Zepplin's "Rock & Roll" (which they have a studio recording of on The Lost & Found) and Heart's "Barracuda". They must be wonderfully energetic and weird live if this recording is any indication. One of these days I have to catch them when they come through town. They're unique. (Neile)

Oh Perilous World

Release info:

2007—Filthy Bonnet—FB 3004-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of the unusual

Group members:

Melora Creager—cello, vocals, dulcimar, recorder
Jonathan TeBeest—drums, percussion, piano, vocals

Guest artists:

Sarah Bowman—backing vocals

Produced by:

Melora Creager and Charlie Campbell

Comments:

Another dark, delightful album from Rasputina, covering such historic events as 1816 (considered the mini-ice age, the year without a summer), the descendents of the mutiny on the Bounty on Pitcairn Island, the Children's Crusade. Always lively, always full of rocking cello sounds. (Neile)

Sister Kinderhook

Release info:

2010—Filty Bonnet—FB3006-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of the unusual

Group members:

Melora Creager—vocals, cello, banjo, keyboards
Daniel DeJesus—celo, vocals, erhu
Calie D'Amica—percussion

Comments:

Another dramatic album full of dark delight. A fine addition to Rasputina's oeuvre with songs about "Sweet Sister Temperance," "The Snow Hen of Austerlitz" (one of my favourites on this album), "Afternoon of the Faun" and "Kinderhook Hoopskirt Works." This album is unlikely to enlarge their audience, but fans like me will eat it up. (Neile)

Unknown

Release info:

2015—FIlthy Bonnet

Availability:

Only from Melora Creager's site

Ecto priority:

Recommendedfor Rasputina fans

Group members:

Melora Creager—vocals, cello

Comments:

As always, the songs are interesting and well-constructed but it's a slightly mixed bag as there's some playing with voices that limit my interest in hitting repeat—by this I mean I enjoy listening to them occasionally but they quickly wear out their welcome, and I find myself skipping them, "Patoral Noir" for example. However I love "Bridget Manners" and "Indian Weed" and really enjoy the instrumentals, too. If you're a Rasputina fan, you'll love this. (Neile)

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