Rasputina: Frustration Plantation
It was years ago that I was first introduced to Rasputina. I remember the very song that guided that introduction ("The New Zero") and its inexplicable ability to completely capture me. I didn't quite know what to make of "these strange, cello playing, goth rockers" but I knew I needed to hear more and see more and experience more... because Rasputina, I soon discovered, is not just a band. Rasputina is practically an entire playwright caught in a time warp, bringing a mixture of presence, sound and esthetics from the past and integrating them brilliantly with a stage set from the present... and then performing the entire thing in corsets! I mean, really, what's not to love?
Like a beautiful scene from an antique plate come to life, Rasputina begin to creep out of the bushes of obscurity with their fourth full-length album release. They pack an arsenal of new material (and a history of older) that bring forth a sound so fierce, it could break the very plate from whence it came. Along with this album comes a pair of new faces in the form of Zoe C. Keating and drummer Jonathon S. Tebeest replacing older members, Nana Bornant and Kris Cowperthwaite, and whilst keeping true to their original fusion of neo-classicalism and rock, some new sounds and influences are certainly present. Most of all, eclecticism is most definitely not lost here. We are still treated to the same breed of unusual soundscapes placed aback the distinct vocal stylings of Miss Melora M. Creager. For example, "Doomsday Averted" appears to be taking some more psychedelic cues while other tracks border rockabilly where Southern overtones mix with their customary turn-of-the 19th century fashion.
Unlike albums prior, I'm not finding anything in Frustration Plantation that predominantly sticks out. Despite Rasputina's continued ability to capture ethereal sounds, mischievous humour and almost storybook qualities, I'm simply not blown away by any one thing in particular here. I didn't find this album to be quite as strong as its predecessors nor did I feel there was much new on it to offer us fans that have been following them since "Thanks For The Ether." On the other hand, there's nothing really bad to say about it either! Perhaps my expectations as a fan were just too high to meet this time around. With a band as innovative as Rasputina, you come to anticipate the continued delivery of what was better than before, when perhaps they've simply found their niche and decided to settle down contently. After "Cabin Fever" it became apparent that Rasputina's ability to keep things interesting was unwavering and it's unfortunate that I didn't feel that same commitment with Frustration Plantation. However, there is one thing you can hand to Rasputina, and that is their consistency, which borders on flawless. With a mission statement that remains unaltered, Rasputina remains to be- despite the oomph behind their latest release- one of the most original, interesting and beautiful deliverers of sound I've yet to come across. The instrumentation alone in Frustration Plantation will lend itself nicely to both old followers and new discoverers of the band.
On the other hand, those not quite used to the likes of Rasputina may find the album on whole a bit hard to swallow. If approached in a close-minded way this record could be easily over-looked and written off as "weird," "pretensions" and "gimmicky.". All things which I feel should be strongly reconsidered. But, for those who are ready to step outside of their musical comfort zones, they should be charmed by the grace and eclecticism that is Rasputina. With Frustration Plantation- as with albums prior- Rasputina continue to prove themselves to be a band that is able to pluck both lyrically and stylistically from decades long past and never miss a beat.