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Cellist Alison Chesley has graced many records familiar to the Big Takeover faithful, starting with her work in Verbow (AKA Jason and Alison) and going through session work and guest appearances with Bob Mould, Broken Social Scene, Frank Black and even Morrissey. Under her Helen Money moniker, however, she makes music very different from her various bosses’. On her third LP Arriving Angels, she emphasizes the low end of her instrument’s range, creating her own vision of ambient metal. Drawing her bow heavily across the cello’s bass strings gives her a sonic onslaught akin to grungy power chords, while moving into its upper range allows her to keen and cry like moaning ghosts. Making good use of effects pedals and joined on a few cuts by Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder, Chesley makes noise with real power, as heavy as a blue whale but as graceful as a dolphin. If that description sounds a bit too much like Apocalyptica, fear not. Chesley’s muse moves in minimalist and experimental directions, not toward lunkheaded radio metal – she’s much rather give you bad dreams that induce you to pump your fist. Plus her choice in cover tunes runs not toward “Metallica*but to Pat Metheny, whose “Midwestern Nights Dream” gets a sedate arco interpretation here. Arriving Angels casts a dark spell, and listening to Helen Money is like watching a thunderstorm gather off the horizon.
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