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Rasputina | Frustration Plantation | review | alternative | Lollipop
Frustration Plantation (Instinct)
By Jamie Kiffel
Melora Creager, that delicately-torn underside of the fabric warp that is rock, has done it again. Frustration Plantation is a fantastically stirring and shiver-filled album, as all Rasputina albums should be: Reeking of mold and moss, terrible, rusting metal tools and the fascination of limb loss. For those who don't know, it isn't that Creager is trying to disgust us. As she once told me herself, she doesn't find her music spooky or ghost-filled at all. That is, of course, because she is that cobwebbed and stained Victorian thing, peering into the musty attic eaves and finding the eyeless dolls and tattered postcards of long-gone souls to be simply pretty.
Creager has defined Rasputina as a rock cello band more definitively on this album than on any other, with the emphasis on thick distortion, drums, soprano strings, and Creager's ever-intriguing, wind-through-the-forest range, often wobbling at the edge of off-pitch like a doll with a slowed voice box and, occasionally, a poor girl's grammar.
While it might be easy to call Rasputina's product a gimmick, Creager's genuine fascination with her subject matter keeps her death and occult sound, for the loss of a better word, fresh. Her band has changed members yet again, and in this incarnation, is down to three. But the sound is as much itself as ever, proving that Creager is the essential créatrice (though I shudder to think of what happened to the ex-members of a band with a death motif). Creager sings a paean to injury ("If you put metal inside of a man, he can work much faster than you can"); delivers a stunning, uneasy love song with "Secret Message;" becomes a gutsy 1904 chanteuse with a cover of Jack Yellen and Vivian Ellis' "If Your Kisses Can't Hold the Man You Love" ("Don't be such a fool, you fool!"), and gaily traces the fast path to insanity with the haunted nursery song, "When I Was a Young Girl." Another triumph is "The Mayor," a windblown lullaby of voices that culminates in a shipwreck of a man being elected.
In a time when most music screams about the latest pleasure, Rasputina turns long-stopped watches over in its hands, and notes death's particular charm.