Helen Money – Arriving Angels Helen Money – Arriving Angels

Basic CMYKHelen Money is Alison Chesley and Alison Chesley plays the cello.

Let me amend that.

Helen Money is Alison Chesley and Alison Chesley plays the fuck out of the cello, employing pedals, loops and an idiosyncratically assaultive approach to the instrument in order to liberate it from the shadows of genteel classicism and thrust it (screaming, at times, it seems) into a new and almost wholly unfamiliar light of rock and roll.

Or doom.

Maybe it isn’t doom. Maybe it’s just fucking metal. Post rock? Drone comes to mind, but that’s not right. Maybe it’s just (listenable) experimental. I can’t safely say for certain what genre we need to talk about when we talk about Helen Money since there’s really no manner of context for a cello as bombastic solo instrument I know of in American popular culture (Yo Yo Ma comes to mind but he is light years removed from anything Ms. Chesley’s revealed under this moniker) so let me just say that Arriving Angels is heavy.

Like, really, fucking heavy.

It’s being released on Profound Lore Records (home to Cobalt, Bloody Panda, Krallice, etc.) for fuck’s sake. It was recorded, mixed and engineered by Steve Albini (whose Shellac has tapped Helen Money to open for them more than a few times). It features Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder on four tracks (a first and surprisingly welcome adoption particularly on the ridiculously gorgeous and furious “Radio Recorders”). It slams and roars and squalls and shrieks with the terrifying force of a mammoth in his death throes.

But it breathes.

And that just might be the most affecting aspect of this record. For all the aggression Arriving Angels elucidates, it never forgets its space. It allows tones to sustain, to rest, to open up into silence and, on occasion, to transform into something gentle, pretty even as in the lovely plucking of “Midwestern Nights Dream.”

Too often heavy music rests its presence on relentless and though that tendency can be a thrill (who doesn’t love a little evil?), more times than not, it’s just exhausting. All this screaming’s losing it’s meaning which is why the work of Helen Money is so refreshing. It’s dynamic. Yes, it’s loud and occasionally abrasive but there is a tenderness in Ms. Chesley’s playing that underlies Arriving Angels‘ most caustic of extremes which, when it reveals itself to the listener (and it will), is actually quite breathtaking.

Arriving Angels Tracklisting:

1. Rift
2. Upsetter
3. Beautiful Friends
4. Radio Recorders
5. Midwestern Nights Dream
6. Arriving Angels
7. Shrapnel
8. Runout

Helen Money - Arriving Angels, reviewed by Charles on 2013-02-05T08:15:13-08:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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