Mad cellist Helen Money (AKA Alison Chesley) is one of the few crossover musicians that, like the lads of Apocalyptica, dare to transgress the boundaries of classical and heavy music. Her collaborations, including gigs with the likes of Disturbed and Anthrax, are not the typical thing you'd expect from a female musician with a masters degree in cello performance. Which brings us to her third solo album, Arriving Angels, now being re-issued in a limited vinyl edition.
Money's approach to composition is spartan, making the notes that do get played all the more prominent against the space surrounding them. And thanks to the copious amounts of signal processing (you ought to see the pedal boards laid out around her feet onstage), her tone has the variability of any guitarist, expanding the timbre of the instrument handily to fill the space left by the absence of a traditional backing band.
Now, for the most part this is your basic minimalist stuff - Money being joined only by Neurosis drummer/percussionist Jason Roeder on all tracks - with an unpredictability (including Bernard Herrmann-esque Psycho attack interludes) that makes the whole album seem completely spontaneous. If you favor traditional music at all, you may have a hard time getting into this stuff. But if you're the more open-minded type that likes to veer off the beaten path musically, this may be your new jam. Personally, I have a hard time connecting to this, but I salute Chesley's bold musical presence.
The Bottom Line: Every now and then someone comes along to remind us jaded rock fans that ours is the music of rebellion and the pushing of envelopes, great and small. Alison Chesley's Helen Money persona, armed with her processed cello, marches forward in the avant-garde field of "ambient doom", leading her followers like a deranged pied piper to the precipice of tradition - and leaning out over it menacingly.
- Genghis is actually looking to learn to play the cello...