Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Helen Money: Arriving Angels (2013)

I Won't String You Along

Helen Money is the stage name of Alison Chesley, a cellist who has appeared on countless albums. Over a nearly two-decade career, she has provided accompaniment for a wide variety of artists across many genres, both for household names and relative unknowns. For the last six years she has also spent some time on her solo career. Her latest album, Arriving Angels, was released on the cello-friendly Profound Lore.

I will not string you along (pun intended). As much as I want to enjoy this, I can’t. I love Grayceon, and I really enjoy Apocalyptica’s mid-period work. I can even get into some Zoe Keating, and I tend to look for the more outside-the-box releases that are marketed toward metalheads. But Arriving Angels just does nothing for me.

It’s easy to explain. There is suitably ominous and experimental cello playing, sometimes sounding uncannily like Tool (opener “Rift”) and other times sounding completely different. There are numerous other sonic elements, as well. But with as many layers as there are, almost everything on the album sounds unfinished. It sounds as if each of these was composed as an added layer to some already-existing composition, in line with her output supporting other artists. It’s as if she collected various rejects, or can’t get out of that writing mindset. The worst is when drums are entirely absent, but the slow drumming of the last couple tracks isn’t a whole lot better.

The only exceptions are where the drums come in playing at high speed (“Beautiful” and “Radio Recorders”). When that happens, it has a wonderful Pivixki kind of effect, and it’s superbly interesting. More of that would be quite welcome.

The Verdict: 1.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I really wanted to like this one, and the parts I did like I really liked, but I have to agree. Maybe a later listen will help it make more sense, but I didn't come away with much. I also found the tone really harsh in places, and not in a "I'm being intentionally abrasive" way, but in a "this was recorded badly" way.