New Helen Money Album, Arriving Angels, Due Out Feb. 5 on Profound Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Still thoroughly under-appreciated after issuing two excellent albums — 2009’s In Tune (review here) and a self-titled debut in 2007 — through her own Cellobird Records, Chicago cellist Helen Money (née Alison Chesley) will make her debut on Profound Lore in February with the forthcoming Arriving AngelsChesley (interview here) has contributed to records by Yakuza and Russian Circles and is a great fit for the label, as she manages to craft with equal ease dense atmospheres or open spaces with just the single instrument.

The new album was recorded, as you can see in the headline, but Steve Albini and drummer Jason Roeder of Neurosis and Sleep also makes an appearance. Here’s the full story off the PR wire:

Steve Albini Recorded And Mixed New Helen Money Album, Arriving Angels

Out On Profound Lore Records February 5th, 2013

The new Helen Money album, Arriving Angels, recorded and mixed by Steve Albini, a long time fan and supporter, will be released on Profound Lore Records February 5th, 2013. National tour dates will be announced soon. Helen Money just completed All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ shows in Camber Sands, England (curated by Shellac).

Arriving Angels, was recorded and mixed in May and September 2012 by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio and features drummer Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep). Cellist/composer Alison Chesley, a.k.a. Helen Money, merges her classical training with a lifelong affinity for punk rock and a taste for heavy metal. In addition to her own material Chesley has also performed and/or directed string arrangements for artists like Anthrax (Worship Music), Russian Circles (Geneva), Broken Social Scene (Forgiveness Rock Record) and current labelmates, Yakuza. For her previous album, In Tune, she worked with Greg Norman (Pelican, Russian Circles, Neurosis), Sanford Parker (Pelican, Chris Connelly, Yakuza, Buried at Sea) and experimental, avant-garde label, Table of the Elements, who released the album in 2009.

“Arriving Angels means a lot to me for so many reasons,” Chesley explains. “It’s a culmination of two years of continuing to explore ideas with my instrument and effects – expressing a lot of changes in my life. Being able to work with Steve — someone I’ve toured with repeatedly over the past few years, and who was able to help me fully realize what I wanted to achieve with my music on this record — was very gratifying.”

The eight tracks on Arriving Angels are: 1. “Rift,” 2. “Upsetter,” 3. “Beautiful Friends,” 4. “Radio Recorders,” 5. “Midwestern Nights Dream (Metheny),” 6. “Arriving Angels,” 7. “Shrapnel” and 8. “Runout.” The music is performed by Alison Chesley on cello. In addition Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep) plays drums on tracks 3, 4, 7 and 8; Dennis Luxion plays piano on tracks 3 and 8; Michael Friedman programmed drum loops for tracks 3, 4, and 8. Tour dates are pending and Chesley will perform most shows solo, but hopes to do some dates with a pianist and/or drummer.

Asked to cite her influences Chesley’s list of artists include The Who, Bob Mould, Steve Reich, Glenn Branca, Roger Williams (Mission of Burma), Neurosis, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, adding “anything dark, powerful, beautiful, with lots of heart.” Chicago Tribune wrote “Alison Chesley brings her classical training on cello into realms occupied by heavy metal extremists and guitar deities.” The Onion opines “Using guitar effects pedals she crafts songs that veer from ethereal to downright ominous.”

In 2011 Helen Money was chosen by Portishead to perform at the ATP ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and toured with Joe Lally (FUGAZI) as both support and performing in his band nightly. In addition to supporting Shellac on tour in 2012, Helen Money has shared bills with Earth, Nina Nastasia, The Bad Plus, KTL and Hunn Huur Tu. With her previous band, Verbow, she opened for Frank Black, Bob Mould, Counting Crows, Live, Morrissey, Liz Phair and Brad with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. Verbow toured nationally for seven years.

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Helen Money Interview: Because “Alison Chesley and Friends” Just Wouldn’t Have Worked

Posted in Features on October 15th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

This wasn't originally going to be the lead shot, but it rules too much not to use. (Photo by Alan Rovge)Cello experimentalist Alison Chesley is set to launch a US tour in two weeks to support her second album under the banner of Helen Money, In Tune (review here). Her label debut for Radium/Table of the Elements, In Tune builds on the creative success of 2007’s Helen Money, on which Chesley showcased her talent for composing rich cello-based pieces around a multitude of effects. On In Tune, as she explains in the interview following, she attempts to up her songwriting technique and steer away from relying to heavily on her array of pedals.

A solo instrumental performer, Chesley as Helen Money crafts an engaging and hypnotic atmosphere on In Tune, and given the progress and confidence displayed from one album to the next, I’m already looking forward to her third outing. In the meantime, Oct. 31-Nov. 30 tour dates are posted on her MySpace, and she was kind enough to take time out for the phoner transcribed here after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Helen Money: In Tune and Far Out

Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Not sure of the significance of the origami dollar bird, but I dig it.Having been a big nerd for Helen Money?s last album, 2007?s Helen Money, I was excited to see that Chicago-based cellist Alison Chesley (ex-Verbow), who for now is the only member of the band Helen Money (no relation to Eddie) was issuing a follow-up. With a release through avant garde label Table of the Elements/Radium, In Tune finds Chesley and her cello — which is the only instrument present throughout — covering The Minutemen and making short work of expectations in general. That seems to be what she does.

In her effort, she?s aided by a Sanford Parker mix and an effects board that would make guitarists salivate. Right away on ?MF,? Chesley brings two sides of her playing style together to create an explorative artistic nuance. She toys with structure throughout In Tune, on the second and title track blending acoustic, un-altered cello meeting with distorted riffing (yes, a cello can riff) in looped madness like something BernardHermann-gone-evil-psychedelic-scientist might prescribe. It is an exercise in contradiction. There are no vocals, no drums, no bass or guitar, and yet Chesley harnesses a rock disposition naturally. Her contributions to the likes of Mono and Russian Circles place her well into the realms of the heavy alternative, and the atmospheres of ?Untilted? and brooding later cut ?Too Heavy? speak of a focus on evocative musical bleakness.

Experimental cello black metal? Yeah, probably not, but it?s a thought. Fits in that genre about as easily as any other.

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