Frustration Plantation

Instinct Records

Meet Melora Creager, 1st chair founderess, composer and directress of Rasputina, the libidinous, anachronistic "cello-rock" band hailing from Brooklyn, New York, by way of Transylvania. After a game of musical chairs, new players coming and going, the line up is now intact and amped to the teeth with their latest album, Frustration Plantation. I blew a speaker out in my car on the first listen. Neat trick for a band consisting of a two cellists and drummer.

Plantation is Raspy's fourth full length album, not counting the venesection that is The Lost and Found, a collection off "cello-rific"covers that included CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" rendered with all the dolorousness of the original, and that extra thing stringed instruments manage to do make wrists so terribly itchy.

On their latest album, Rasputina seem possessed more musically by Black Sabbath and Zep than the cryonic head-drama of Roger Waters and Co. "Doomsday Averted," the opener, the only lyric on the track, rolls round and round like an approaching storm cloud. Timekeeper Jonathon TeBeest drops soft, portentous patter from behind the kit, suggesting thunder, if not the touchdown of a tornado off in the distance.

"Possum of the Grotto" is that very shitstorm, coming on dirty and skuzzy like the filthiest come-on you ever actually entertained, be it briefly. Melora and 2nd chair Zoe Keating channel Tony Iommi and Terry Buttler, setting your head to full-tilt bobble. "Grotto" marches along like reveille with a Banshee as the drill sergeant.

A Rasputina album wouldn't be complete without the aberrant spoken-word track. It's their signature, the proverbial mark of the beast. "My Captivity By Savages" is it, but comes up short on the funny found elsewhere in their catalogue. Seek: Thanks for the Ether and discover the similarities between the Donner Party and the early settlers of America. Seek: How We Quit the Forrest and discover exactly where, in days of olde, a twenty gallon brass syringe was inserted to free one from demonic possession. Seek: Cabin Fever and you might be able to disgorge Bjork from the artistic roll-call.

"Saline the Salt Lake Queen" typifies that classic Raspy sound, old-timey narratives that presuppose a tragi-comic protag lost in dour circumstances. Melora festoons the song with sexed up, excessive "Ohs" recalling Joan Jett and walks a tightrope between diuretic whine and roll-her-in-flour moan, chanting: "There lived a little girl who love to bake./ The only thing she made was cake./ But all she used was salt./ That's all she had. It's not her fault." Imagine "Iron Man" meets Strauss. Imagine the lascivious love child of Ozzy Osborne and Yo-Yo Ma.

Frustration Plantation is not an art-project, but not a concept album, either. It's mummery, Rasputina permuted through another dollhouse setting. This time they're on a farm, all the while retaining their alluring, alarming Victorian ethos. Really, Rasputina are a concept band more than just a mere art-project, sharing the same fastidiously, ridiculously stylized aesthetic with the likes of a band, say, The White Stripes. Just without the burden of celebrity and trouser-snake pants.

-- J. Evan Miller <Brillohunter1000 at aol dot com>

lou at louthompson dot com