Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings
A solitary acoustic cellist toting a bow, wired to an amp and flanked by a cache of effects pedals may not first evoke ear-bleeding, cataclysmic heaviosity, but in the singular universe of Alison Chesley, aka Helen Money, the string instrument masteress creates just that.
As a disciple of both Hüsker Dü and classical music, Chesley first honed her cello chops in the’90s along with guitarist Jason Narducy (Bob Mould Band) in Chicago buzz saw pop outfit, Verbow. In 2003, Verbow imploded; Chesley soon reinvented herself as Helen Money, nomadic cellist gushing from her strings both the ethereal complexities of classicism and the post-punk bludgeon of fellow Chi-town peers Shellac and the Jesus Lizard.
On Arriving Angels, Chesley’s just released third album, she’s undergone yet another reinvention: purveyor of classi-killing doom avant-metal. She signed on with preeminent metal label Profound Lore for Arriving Angels, a sonically brutal beast of distortion-drenched, loops-oscillating cello sound-age, recorded by longtime bud Steve Albini. Upping the metal ante further is the presence of experi-metal drums crusher Jason Roeder (Neurosis) guesting on a few tracks.Get to know Money wreaking cello havoc with these five clips.
1. “Beautiful Friends” at Vacation Vinyl
Punishment is dished out in the form of “Beautiful Friends,” one of the heaviest tunes on Arriving Angels. On record, Roeder teams with Chesley for pummeling action but live in concert she goes it alone and the result is no less effective in its intensity.
2. “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing”
Chesley grew up on the hardcore of SST Records and abided by the motto of her heroes in the Minutemen: “Punk rock is whatever we made it out to be.” She shows it here, jamming econo on her revelatory cover of the San Pedro legends classic from Double Nickels on the Dime, “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing” found on her second album In Tune.
3. “Hendrix” live at the New Parish, Oakland, opening for Shellac
On Helen Money’s 2007 debut, Chesley paid homage to two more icons, titling one epic “Iggy” and the other, seen here performed live, “Hendrix.” All that’s missing in this clip of convulsing noise-rock swirl is Chesley setting her cello ablaze, a la Jimi.
4. Live in Cleveland
Besides inflicting strings-based damage at dark, dank metal clubs across the land, another perfect setting for Chesley’s aesthetic is inside the cozy confines of an art gallery.
5. “Untilted” (live at The Bell House opening for Shellac)
Steve Albini has long championed Chesley, recording each of her records at his studio(http://www.electricalaudio.com/) and taking her along on tour as an opener for Shellac. Here, Chesley has no problem converting Shellac’s dude-heavy audience into Helen Money enthusiasts.
Arriving Angels is out now via Profound Lore.