Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Music Review: A Radical Recital by Rasputina

Some of you may know that I enjoy hearing modern music played with or accompanied by classical instruments. For this reason, my favorite Metallica album is S&M, on which the band is accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Similarly, one of my very favorite albums is Portishead's Live: Roseland NYC, which combines that band's signature melancholy trip-hop sound---including the scratching----with a full orchestra.

I'm not sure if our friend Ken knew this about me when he gave Alison and me Rasputina's A Radical Recital. Rasputina is a band whose membership has fluctuated, but which seems to usually consist of 2 cellos and a drum kit. They play mostly original, contempory music in addition to a few covers of what they call "classical music," where "classical" means "from the 1970s." So, this group certainly seems to be the kind of thing I would enjoy. But do I actually?


Their sound is indeed enjoyable, at least to someone with my musical proclivities. However, the lyrics really ice the cake. Consider the subjects of a few of the songs from this album:
  • "Howard Hughes" is about the germophobia and reclusiveness of the famous billionaire industrialist.
  • "The Mayor" is about a mentally ill person, although it's often assumed to be about the President. Hah!
  • "Mamma Was an Opium Smoker" is about...well, you can guess.
  • "Signs of the Zodiac" is perhaps my favorite song on the disc, and it's about belief in or skepticism of astrology.
  • "Rats" has the most amusing lyrics; the song relates my favorite anecdote from Catholic history.

Here's an anecdote about A Radical Recital: After Ken gave us this disc, around the winter holidays, we listened to it once and enjoyed it, but then it somehow filtered to the bottom of some stack and went unplayed for a couple of months. When I bought the Miata and browsed our collection for CDs insert into the car's new-fangled CD changer, I rediscovered it. The album has lived in the roadster since then, and the music has somehow become linked in my head with driving that car, in somewhat the same way that Dido's No Angel is linked with inline speedskating for me.

Overall, I'd this album 9.0 out of 10 if you are interested in this kind of classical-contemporary fusion. If not, I'd still give it a 7.0. Since I am into this kind of thing, I'm going to buy another CD of their music.

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