Classical music has been around for quite awhile now, and while it still maintains its' worldwide recognition, it falls flat in the eyes of our younger generation and lacks any intriguing elements, but it there's a group which may help to remedy this problem, it's the cello-driven trio known as Rasputina.
In 1996, we see the trio release their first official album, "Thanks For The Ether", which is our first glimpse into the mind of our historical buff and vocalist for the band, Melora Creager, whose lyrical inspirations have poured all over the album. There are many tales to be heard from the trio, whether it be about a woman who explains the disatrous events surrounding the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 ("My Little Shirtwaist Fire") or discussion about the lament of vampires and the unlucky humans trapped in Transylvania with them ("Transylvanian Concubine.") Even the cover artwork, created by Creager herself, reinforces the historical feel this album the listener is being offered.
On this record, you'll only find cello and the odd hit of a drum here and there, and Creager plays her cello into the ground with astounding results, but she isn't without the assistance of her ambience-creating, harmonic second-seaters Julia Kent and Carpella Parvo. Don't let the description of the latter two lull you into a false sense of their inferiority for they, too, never let up on their cataclysmic musicianship either, delivering powerful harmonies which would nearly bring one to tears. The best examples of these would rear their heads in the previously mentioned tracks "My Little Shirtwaist Fire" and "Transylvanian Concubine." Another worthy mention is the Melanie Safka cover song "Brand New Key" in which Creager delivers vocals which are simple albeit operatic, and this makes you appreciate their take on this classic.
Of course, with every great record comes its' flaws, and there are a few on here which suffocate the record a little bit. At first, Creager delivers those operatic vocals which we first found on "Brand New Key" into the monotonous "Crybabies", which sounds nice until an echo kicks in about 0:30 and grows in pitch until it becomes almost unbearably loud and one eventually ends up skipping, the latter action of which should be taken. The spoken-word tracks "Five Fleas" and "Kate Moss" pretty much share the same three-chord structure throughout the respective tracks, making them sound dull and a tad uninspired.
To say the least, there's something here for anyone who enjoys classical music, stories on great historical events and even the odd cello enthusiast wanting to sharpen his/her skills, but in saying that, I'd only recommend it to people who don't mind fillers every now and then.
-My Little Shirtwaist Fire
-Brand New Key