Monday, June 02, 2008

Music Review: Oh Perilous World by Rasputina

As promised in my last music review, I bought another album by the self-described chamber-rock trio Rasputina. I chose their most recent album, Oh Perilous World. This album is something of a concept album; the songs mostly address the dangerous world in which we live, the climate change, Hurricane Katrina, Schistosomiasis, the war in Iraq, Osama bin Laden, child soldiers, and more. More interestingly---to me at least---about half the tracks also tell an alternate-history story in which the residents of Pitcairn Island, lead by Thursday October Christian, revolt against Queen Mary Todd Lincoln of Florida and her fleet of airships.* Here are assorted comments on some notable songs from this album:
  • "1816, The Year Without a Summer" is probably my favorite track on Oh Perilous World. It describes the Little Ice Age, in particular, the Year Without a Summer, and mentions both Mary Shelly and Benjamin Franklin.
  • "A Cage in a Cave" reveals where Flecther Christian goes for solitude on Pitcairn.
  • "Choose Me for Champion" chronicles the plight of the Pitcainers and mentions the younger Mr. Christian.
  • "Oh Bring Back the Egg Unbroken" concerns the Birdman Cult on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).*
I don't find the songs on this release quite as musically pleasing as those on A Radical Recital, with the exception of "1816." However, the lyrics, and stories they tell compensate for any musical shortcomings. Thus, I rate this album exactly on par with the live album. Overall, I give it 9.0 out of 10 for those of you who like this kind of thing; if you think a trio playing songs of alternate-history on 2 cellos and a drum kit while wearing exaggerated faux-period costumes sounds intriguing to you, then you will enjoy Oh Perilous World. For those that don't have a particular interest in music of this type, I'd give it a 7.0.

* These songs piqued my interest in the history of Rapa Nui and the story of the mutiny on the Bounty, which both turn out the be quite fascinating. I was also reminded of the sinking of the Essex, which is the very interesting story that inspired Moby Dick. I encourage you to learn all of this history if you haven't already.

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