This blog began in 1997 as a single news page called Nucelus. In 2005, during a long wait to move into a new house, I decided to learn some php and MySQL and write my own blogging system, which became inkyBlog and which now powers this, my own Webbledegook blog.
Thank you to my brother, Murray Ewing, for help with some of the more challenging aspects!
Rasputina is really cellist Melora Creager with a changing cast of support players along the way. Her notability was bolstered after serving as cellist for Nirvana on their final European tour in 1994. Rasputina's first album, Thanks for the Ether, came in 1996, followed two years later by the much stronger How We Quit the Forest - both with Columbia. Their next two albums, Cabin Fever and Frustration Plantation, both very good, were released through Instinct.
Oh Perilous World (2007) was the third recording to be released through Creager's own label, Filthy Bonnet, the first being an excellent live album, A Radical Recital (2005). Besides Melora, the line-up included Jonathan TeBeest, on drums and percussion, who had also appeared on Frustration Plantation as well as Creager's first solo album, Perplexions, and Sarah Bowman on backing vocals (she was also second cello live, having been with Rasputina since 2006).
Oh Perilous World is a concept album telling of a world that exists in an alternate dimension, one where the Pitcairn Islands, overseen by Thursday October Christian, are under threat from an over-reaching United States ruled by Queen Mary Todd Lincoln. You get the feeling it could work as an avant-garde musical of some sort, the storytelling narrative is imaginative, clever, and entertaining.
The opening track, 1816, the Year Without a Summer, is a perfect assemblage of music, composition and lyrics - a work of art. Taking as its basis the freak climate events of 1816, it acquaints us with the disastrous crop failures of the late Little Ice Age ("so Mary Shelly had to stay inside and she wrote Frankenstein"), the conspiracy theories of the time ("Benjamin Franklin and his experiments with electricity"), and the later discovery of the real cause of it all - the eruption the previous year of Mount Tambora in the East Indies. No doubt the song has one eye also on the growing climate catastrophe we face today.
Subsequent tracks introduce us to the main narrative, taking us to the Pitcairns with creative use of overdriven cello and zinging dulcimer - the latter a characteristic sound of the record which, I admit, took me a while to acclimatise to. Throughout the album Creager's cello sounds awesome - wonderful woody tones, pizzicato arpeggios, deep drawn bass notes, and distorted riffs - the culmination of years of experience and experimentation all coming together.
Draconian Crackdown, featuring the American Queen in a post-9/11-type frenzy, has the feel of a Led Zeppelin rocker - I can imagine it fitting into Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti. Oh Bring Back the Egg Unbroken is a wonderful composition, based on the Rapa Nui tradition of the tangata manu - the race to swim out to a small rocky outcrop and return with the intact egg of the sooty tern.
Vying with 1816 for the best track on the album is In Old Yellowcake, a masterful composition with a nod to the forged Niger uranium documents that boosted the US and UK's case for war on Iraq, and more specifically about the assault on Fallujah. If the album had a single, this might be it, and Creager has hinted in live shows that it may have had the potential to be 'popular' - if they had been that kind of band.
A Retinue of Moons is a double-feature, enjoined to The Infidel In Me, yet another album highlight, particularly the latter piece, though both are wonderfully constructed arrangements, orchestral and dramatic with flowing changes in tempo and melody, epically cinematic in scope. I must also mention Melora's vocals - like her music unique, sublime, and full of character.
Oh Perilous World quickly became one of my very favourite albums, and one of the few for which I occasionally lie down and listen to, eyes closed, (hopefully) no distractions, to bathe in completely. I like every song; it remains highly original, lyrically brilliant, and eternally satisfying. I can certainly imagine this record won't be to everyone's taste, but for me it's a masterpiece.