Oh Perilous World and How We Quit the Forest, Creager is just as likely to use her small army of cellos to turn airy chamber-pop dreams into urgently febrile nightmares. Before sitting in with Rasputina, Eliza Rickman opens, making the ticking chimes of her toy piano sound eerie instead of merely cute.
Wearing elaborate vintage ballroom gowns while playing cello-driven music with lyrics that are rich in fairy tale–style imagery, Rasputina might initially seem like a quaintly atemporal steampunk band headed to the Renaissance Faire. But the New York group’s fanciful visuals and knotty lyrics actually lead down a rabbit hole in which the tragedies, wars and oppression of the modern world are couched in ultra-fantastic symbolism; the technical term for what singer-cellist Melora Creager and company do is magic. While there are moments of fragile, delicate beauty on such albums as