Great American Gingerbread
Filthy Bonnet Co
The cello never made the big time in the narrow world of rock ‘n’ roll instrumentation, but with Rasputina (led by Melora Creager), it’s had a great run. Working with a revolving list of co-contributors, the Rasputina line-up may shift but its innovative approach to making rock ‘n’ roll has stayed solidly eclectic and intriguing. This is the super fan disc; there’s a CD with 13 obscure tracks that never made it on their other albums along with a nicely filmed 2002 concert at New York’s The Knitting Factory.
The CD opens with “Pudding Crypt,” a creepy, fun retelling of a doll’s funeral. It’s the sort of thing children do all the time, but this drips details and feels completely personal. A Kinks cover (“I Go To Sleep”) and a couple of versions of “Black Hole Hunter” highlight Creager’s vocals. The cello riffs shock and amuse as we ask the question, why doesn’t anyone use these ominous stringed boxes on stage anymore? And why aren’t current chart toppers writing more songs about Magnetars and gravitational singularities?
Rasputina prefers the darker elements of life, and there’s a Gothic theme running through “Death at Disneyland” and “Lizzie Borden.” “Mysterious Man Monkey” reads a series of news reports of a weird incident in Delhi over a sound effect back track, and the film scores like “Loom” and “On My Knees” are complex and moody — suspect there won’t be a happy ending before these credits.
The concert DVD is the best part of the collection — it’s even more obscure than the CD. Featuring little known songs that might have been hits, you’ll enjoy “Transylvanian Concubine” and “My Orphanage.” With her pale skin and lacey white dress, Creager and her backing cellists (Kris Coperthwaite, Nana Bornant, and Jonathan TeBeest on drums) look striking as they banter with the audience and howl into the microphone. The concert is intimate; they take fan questions and plug merchandise while a stuffed javelina glowers over the show. The questions cover a wide range: Creager’s dislike for the American obsession with bathing, a fear of sloths, and the threat to shoot evil looks at anyone who misbehaves. This is the ragged margin of rock ‘n’ roll, and the equally ragged margin of classical stringed instruments, and it’s a breath of fresh air.