Cel­loship of the strings

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Reviews - Rob DeWalt The New Mex­i­can

“I started play­ing cello around 8 or 9 years old, but I quit the or­ches­tra in the eighth grade be­cause it was for dorks, and I wanted to be cool.” As dorky as Melora Crea­ger might have felt hoist­ing her cello off the school bus as a young girl grow­ing up in Em­po­ria, Kansas, at some point, she did an about-face and made the in­stru­ment the cor­ner­stone of her ca­reer. Speak­ing to Pasatiempo by phone from her Hud­son, New York, home, Crea­ger — founder and pri­mary com­poser for melan­choly gothic-cham­ber-pop trio Rasputina — couldn’t care less if you think she’s a grown-up band geek with a predilec­tion for Vic­to­rian re­galia and (at the moment) ob­scure northeastern Amer­i­can his­tory. She’s happy with her cre­ative choices, and she’s in con­trol of them ev­ery step of the way. On Mon­day, Aug. 9, Rasputina per­forms at the Santa Fe Brew­ing Com­pany in sup­port of its lat­est al­bum, Sis­ter Kin­der­hook (Filthy Bon­net records), re­leased in June.

Af­ter high school, Crea­ger made her way to Par­sons School of De­sign in New York City, where she stud­ied pho­tog­ra­phy. “That’s when I started play­ing in a band, be­cause it’s a pretty com­mon art-school thing to do I guess,” she said. “And that’s when I brought my cello back into my life.” She played with a small group called the Trav­el­ing Ladies’ Cello So­ci­ety for nearly a decade, and when she started her own en­sem­ble in the ’ 90s, Crea­ger wanted it to be much larger than a tra­di­tional art-school rock group. She took out a clas­si­fied ad look­ing for play­ers. “I en­vi­sioned an elec­tric-cello choir,” she said, “and I think we had seven women play­ing in the be­gin­ning. But I didn’t re­ally know how to lead a big group. It all re­volved more around the con­cept at the time, rather than solidly fo­cused on the mu­sic; it was very dis­or­ga­nized.” Crea­ger pared the en­sem­ble down to three play­ers — two cel­list-vo­cal­ists and a per­cus­sion­ist — and Rasputina was born.

Sis­ter Kin­der­hook takes lis­ten­ers on a the­matic jour­ney through some of the odd­ball sagas of Crea­ger’s cur­rent home­town and sur­round­ing ar­eas, spin­ning yarns about sub­jects both fac­tual and fan­cied, like the Helder­berg War (a 19th-cen­tury ten­ants’ re­volt); a girl raised as a bird in an en­closed pen; itin­er­ant por­traitists; and the Na­tive Amer­i­can Mound Builder giants of Illi­nois.

Crea­ger sees Rasputina’s es­o­teri­cism, both vis­ual and lyrical, as more a nat­u­ral re­sponse to the things she hap­pens to be cu­ri­ous about than a chance to com­pen­sate for her for­mer dork­dom. Ear­lier in her ca­reer, when she counted her­self among mem­bers of Ul­tra Vivid Scene — a band that en­joyed heavy goth­mu­sic cred due to its as­so­ci­a­tion with cel­e­brated U.K. im­print 4AD — em­brac­ing the un­usual might have seemed like a bril­liant ca­reer move dur­ing the up­ward tra­jec­tory of la­bel­mates like Cocteau Twins, This Mor­tal Coil, and Dead Can Dance. Now, how­ever, it’s just who Crea­ger is: mother, singer, song­writer, cel­list, and a woman with a bound­lessly cu­ri­ous mind. Add to Crea­ger’s ré­sumé tour­ing with Nir­vana on its last ma­jor hur­rah be­fore Kurt Cobain’s sui­cide, a stint on the road with Mar­i­lyn Man­son, and ses­sion and tour­ing work with Belle & Se­bas­tian and you be­gin to un­der­stand that Crea­ger doesn’t ob­sess about who she’s sur­rounded by mu­si­cally, as long as they’re will­ing to play — and play well.

Hav­ing said that, what’s with the get-up? “The vis­ual com­po­nent of the band, the Vic­to­rian dress and all, sprang partly from my art-school back­ground,” Crea­ger said. “It was some­thing I prob­a­bly would have gen­er­ated as a piece of vis­ual art any­way, but in this case, I just broad­ened that con­cept to in­clude fashion and mu­sic. And in the case of the new al­bum, Hud­son was a re­ally ac­tive and vi­tal re­gion some time ago. I bumped into a lot of the al­bum’s the­matic ma­te­rial by pure co­in­ci­dence and built on it to tell the sto­ries I wanted to tell.” ( Sis­ter Kin­der­hook was recorded at Crea­ger’s home stu­dio.)

Vic­to­ri­ana’s se­cret: Melora Crea­ger

Rasputina: from left, Melora Crea­ger, Daniel DeJe­sus, and Catie D’Amica

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.