Music News

Cello Pop

Rock music history is paved with the asphalt of failure and obscurity — in their respective eras, the now-venerated watersheds the Stooges, Nick Drake, Velvet Underground, and Tim Buckley moved units in the teensy-weensiest figures. But as someone in the blues field observed, "Give me the flowers while I'm living." There's stuff happening now that really challenges and enhances the concept of rock 'n' roll. One purveyor of such is Rasputina.

Classically trained cellist Melora Creager's vision of a truly alternative rock band crystallized in 1992: No guys, no guitars, no dressing like sexpots or as if they'd fallen out of a St. Vincent de Paul dollar-clothing bin. The result: Rasputina, a trio of female cellists dressed in Victorian undergarments, their axes augmented by electronics to the point of not resembling the cello's deep, woody tones.

After recording for the Columbia and Instinct Records labels, Creager took matters into her own hands and established the Filthy Bonnet Recording Co., releasing A Radical Recital in 2005 and this year's Oh Perilous World (which includes their first male member, drummer Jonathon Tebeest). Inspired by the real world and "sampling" texts from Internet news for harrowing lyrics, OPH sounds like a punk rock Brecht and Weill (the team behind The Threepenny Opera) voiced by Kate Bush's bratty younger sister, driven by the wry pop smarts of pre-Discovery Electric Light Orchestra, the brash urgency of Metallica, and the pugnacious whimsy of Pere Ubu. It's arty, thorny, precious, heartfelt, and utterly unlike nearly any other "rock" in the marketplace. And you gotta hear how Ms. MC frames the line, "Quite unbelievably, I want someone to be sweet to me when I am in absolutely horrible pain."