Rasputina is not your mother's Goth, nor your grandmother's…nor, now that I think on it, your daughter's. No, Melora Creager and her two-decade changing roster of eccentric musicians is more what Poe would have loved to sip absinthe to while contemplating either the razor's edge or a Beardsleyan orgy of Pan-centric perversion. Great American Gingerbread is an audio-visual twofer—one disc a CD, the other a DVD—that dusts the cobwebs off a collection of eclectic and, in the CD, solo working visions from a lass whose mental machinery is obviously always in a frothing ferment despite a wry unaffected air whenever she speaks to her audiences.
Sometimes the result is sparse and haunting, other times burgeoning with lush airs and multi-vocals, as in Black Hole Hunter, which indulges everything she's about rather nicely, as does the succeeding postlude Black Hole.2, a carryover that invokes the sonic warpings of Bill Nelson in his early solo ventures. Maid Melora then heads for a starker a cappella mode marvelously underwritten by a quasi-pizzicato string thump-n-damp on that most chugarumpfing of instruments, the cello, catgut cousin to the bassoon. The sustenance of sophistication and deliciously drear literacy throughout the disc, however, is what most informs the listener that the Edwardianly saucy wench has indeed always been the one and only kohl-eyed Mistress Rasputina, nor do the instrumental cuts do anything to dispel that, especially the chambered Children's Reform Centre.
The presentation of this twofer is aqua-tinted and redolent of age—well, seemingly, as I'm quite sure the drawings in the background are from her child, Hollis. In the DVD's live performances from downtown NYC, Melora affects Ophelia-wear that would've had the Brontes seething with jealousy (and, guys, you might want to take an, um, scientific interest in the Displacement Factor playing a cello has on one of the accompanists' cleavage—purely on a volume displacement/physiognomic level, of course, as it's quite geometrically fascinating) and adds significantly to the arch lyrics with her deadpan ironic delivery, Kansas Liverpudlian and street Cockney blent, not to mention the tongue-in-cheek between-song patter. These visuals in fact turn out to be just as entertaining as sonically captivating, punchy, progressive, and timeless all in one.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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