Behold…the Arctopus / Helen Money / Cleric @ St. Vitus – 3.22.13 Behold…the Arctopus / Helen Money / Cleric @ St. Vitus – 3.22.13

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Listen, I’ll just be straight up with you on this one, kids. I spent a Friday night more or less by myself walking to and drinking PBR at the best damn metal bar in Brooklyn (I MISS YOU, SWEET WATER!) so that I could watch Helen Money do weird and painfully wondrous things to a cello. I had no idea who the opening acts were and I was pretty confident that I was going to hate the ever-loving fuck out of whatever goddamn dude-brah music school bullshit (elipsis) Arctopus was going to churn out no matter how furious my fear boner is for the agitating death metal jazz Camp Crystal Lake madness that is the bread and blubber of Mr. Weasel Walter.

Seriously, that dude is terrifying.

I’ve seen Dysrhythmia before and I know Krallice well enough so I was not really all that excited about another late night with Colin Marston particularly now that he would be playing the twelve-string, white touch abomination known as the “Warr Guitar.”

But fuck it, right? This is metal.

So I got there early, ran into the good Kap’n’s friend Zach and caught openers, Cleric who were just about almost great. I mean, their “singer” could fucking scream like nobody’s business and I was certainly glad to hear that methodical metal acts have moved away from the slums of Tool worship and into the manic realm of Mike Patton’s backing speed funk freakonomics but the songs were too long and I think there was spoken word and probably some fettered keys, maybe. Still and all…when that dude howled…holy SHIT BALLS!

Cleric

Helen Money seemed a little miscast this evening. As several of the graduates Berklee or Hunter or Peabody in attendance openly lamented, Helen Money’s “base” approach to the cello was lacking when compared to the tectonic mayhem of “COOOLLIIINN!!” or…I don’t know…to be honest I started tuning the music nerds out at some very early point in the evening because there’s nothing worse than a know-it-all trying to kill a comforting wail on account of it being subtle, spacious and downright listenable when compared to the hordes of Frank Zappa’s illegitimate children trying desperately to bleed love from his long gone black humor tumor through Orange stacks, space time shifts and chord inversions.

Nuts to that.

What Helen Money does is, in many ways, simple. She raises low voices from hell and echoes them through her cello. She patterns and loops and scratches to make a warm cacophony that uplifts and then ebbs just enough, when the time’s right, to allow the acoustic power of her instrument to shine. I will admit that when I’ve seen her before (at the Bell House [twice], opening for Shellac) her performances were more forcefully resonant, assaultive even and I’m not sure if it was the space, the sound, the terra cotta crowd (most of whom did seem to adore her) or the introduction of drum samples into her performance that took some of the teeth out of her roar but this night my bowels left unshook.

It was still good, though. Still REALLY fucking good. Open and deceptively complex and engaging and so much fucking better than so many rumbling note-happy numbskull show-offs which I’m sure I echoed over and over and over again to Ms. Money (I know her name’s Allison but “Money” is funny) when the night wound down and my beer ran out and which I find worth repeating here because that’s sort of my job, isn’t it?

Helen Money

Oh, …the Arctopus. It is not for me to behold you and I’m sure that if you knew that you wouldn’t give two flying fucks because your amphetamine melee has attracted you a substantial fanbase with reasonable enough means to keep you garnering all sorts of pedigree and cranking out the antihits for ten years now. Yes, you are metal and I do like me some metal time and again. Sure, you’re talented but the kinks and the cracks that you throw in to complicate the simple matter of melody is more than my lame duck sensibilities can bear on any given day of the week. But I am glad that you exist…just to keep Mr. Walter from his atonal conspiracy, to keep so many young dumb kids from thinking that their nu metal idols know the slightest fucking thing about shredding and for reminding us that John Zorn’s Genius Grant really does have a ripple effect from Medeski, Martin and Merzbow all the way down to Dave Mustaine.

I don’t like you but I won’t disparage you.

You play like a wet rat in flames.

Behold…the Arctopus



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