8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 15, 1996
Rasputina brings unique style to Pontiac
By Heather Phares
For the Daily
You might think the idea of a ladies' cello society is
about as modern as a whalebone corset. The women of
Rasputina, one such musical society, would beg to dif-
fer. Much like the antique underpinnings the group
collects and wears onstage, singer / songwriter Melora
Walters and her sister cellists mold their genre-defy-
ing music with seemingly quaint and historical influ-
On the group's debut album,
"Thanks for the Ether," PR
Rasputina sings of cannibalism
in colonial times, uses old love
letters as song lyrics and records Playi
with an Edison machine - all Door
in the pursuit of creating some- D
thing entirely new. The group
succeeds; "Thanks for the Ether" is disorienting, dis-
turbing and certainly different. And the group brings
this unique style to its concert with Kula Shaker at the
7th House in Pontiac on Sunday.
As fresh as the band sounds, Rasputina has taken its
own sweet time in perfecting its style. Combined, the
trio has more than 50 years of playing experience. In
a recent interview with The Michigan Daily, Walters
explained how she found the cello: "I started playing
when I was around nine. My father played briefly in
college, and he made sure each of his kids played an
instrument. My dad really wanted me to play cello, so
I sort of obliged him that way."
Rasputina "formed four or five years ago," accord-
ing to Walters, and it was set aside as she toured with
bands like Nirvana. Several years and lineup changes
later, Rasputina still feels a little like a band in flux:
"Julia joined a couple of years ago. Our drummer is
from Alice Donut, and he's new to the band for this
tour. And Mischka just emigrated to the States from
Poland just seven months ago.
"It's very exciting for her,
VI E W and it's exciting for me as well.
Rasputina She's just the complete oppo-
site of your typical cynical
Sunday at 7th House New York hipster. It's good to
tiac with Kula Shaker. have new eyes and ears in the
open at 8 p.m. Tix $6. bn.
Walters' songs also seem to
have a fresh perspective on things. She attributes this
to the spontaneity of her songwriting: "I write on a
four-track. I'll come up with a song and I'll either be
singing it or I'll come up with a pure cello riff.
Lyrically, I'm most inspired by what I read. I read a lot
of history and that really influences what I write my
But she is somewhat ambivalent when it comes to
her feelings about her band's debut album. "I enjoy it
in hindsight, but it was pretty tense and pretty tedious
to make," Walters said. "Everything was very micro-
scopic and we redid everything over and over to make
sure it was perfect."
Even though songs like "Transylvanian
Concubine," "Mr. E. Leon Rauis" and the band's cov-
ers of the classic "Why Don't You Do Right?" and
Melanie's "Brand New Key" sound good, Walters is
critical. "It's still a little too natural and aco*
sounding for my tastes. I like a more distorted kind of
sound, and that's the way we're veering now. The:way
we're playing live is kind of influencing the way we'll
probably sound when we record next," Walters said.
The group's live show is an experience better lived
than described. With attention to detail on both the
musical and visual fronts, Rasputina captivates audi-
ences no matter who they tour with. "We tend to push
the limits of what we can do with our sound when
we're onstage," Walters explained. "There's also
something very visual about it, with three wo °p
bowing cellos intensely. We kind of look dowin
showboating cellists that toss their heads and roll their
eyes while they're playing, but it is pretty energetic."
And where does the group find the delicate, antique
undergarments that are its visual trademark ? "We are
always looking for new additions," Walters "said.
"We're flea market frequenters, and a lot of the time
people end up giving us stuff that they know fits in
with our style. It's always a hunt."
But hunt no farther than Rasputina for innovative,
New Yorker art critic to read at Borders
Noted historian and New Yorker art critic Simon Schama visits Ann Arbor
tonight, with a 7:30 reading at Borders Books & Music. Schama will be
in town promoting the Vintage Books release of "Landscape and
Memory," an eloquent and unique work that discusses and dwells on the
natural world. Schama weaves together history, art, mythology and cul-
ture as he explores the ideas of homelands and the meanings of land-
scapes. Schama, educated at Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard, now teach-
es history and art history at Columbia University.
Grandfather of rap music, Gil Scott
Heron, hits Ferndale's Magic Bag
Gil Scott Heron, the grandfather of rap music, has been performing
politically motivated urban poems longer than most University stu-
dents have been alive. He will be appearing in two shows at the
Magic Bag in Ferndale tomorrow at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Heron is per-
haps best known for his militant album "The Revolution Will not be
Televised." His most recent album, "Spirits" (TVT records), was
released in 1994. Heron's flowing, jazz-background performance will
be complemented by the poetic expression of Detroit native Jessica
Care Moore, who first gained attention as the only poet to win
Showtime at the Apollo's amateur night contest five times.
Tomorrow night will undoubtedly be one of spoken power and revolu-
tionary mind spill. Tickets are $15 and they can be purchased at
the Magic Bag box office or through Ticketmaster. For more infor-
mation call (810) 544-3030.
3 " t
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