Posted on March 6th, 2013 (3:47 pm) by Lindsey Saunders

What happens when a classically trained cellist composes an art punk album? Helen Money. Although to place Alison Chesley's newest album, Arriving Angels into the punk genre would hardly say enough for how inspired and unique her work truly is. Records like these don’t come around often. Not only does Arriving Angels peak the interest of the classically trained musician, it could also be an easy favorite for a progressive rock fan. Helen Money has the kind of appreciation for all genres that pushes the envelope of expression in a way that makes it difficult not to feel inspired - no matter who you are.

It’s good to hear an artist making records that are both experimental and accessible. Arriving Angels contains just enough motifs to draw us in, allowing a little more room for creative freedom without being too “out there.” Almost everything about this project breaks the mold, including tempo and time signature changes that are reminiscent of progressive metal groups such as Tool and Dream Theater. Despite it’s complexity, Arriving Angels is never stressful to listen to. Each tracks moves ominously yet pleasantly into the next without sounding too similar, never losing our attention. In fact, we would go as far as to say that listening to one track without the other seven would significantly take away from the listening experience. Because of this, Arriving Angels could be considered a concept album: telling a story without any words at all. When it comes to songs like these, who needs lyrics? We love that instrumental music has made a comeback, especially with an album like this one.

This record is surprisingly minimalistic considering how expressive it is. Alison Chesley plays the cello as a main instrument (with an assortment of peddles and affects) and the only other thing added is a little percussion here and there (courtesy of Jason Roeder of Chicago band, Neurosis). Although she’s obviously good all on her own, this addition is indispensable. Making their first appearance in “Beautiful Friends,” the percussion is just understated enough. The drums are placed in strategic places that provide that roaring tention without being a distraction. This, among other things, shows that Alison Chesley understands the importance of dynamic. Just before we get antsy listening to the more driving tracks, her arrangement of Pat Metheny’s “Midwestern Nights Dream” gives our ears the break they need before ramping up again.

Perhaps the best thing about Arriving Angels is how inclusive it is. You don’t have to listen to a lot of instrumentals or know much about music to be moved by it, and that is part of what makes this record so genius. Arriving Angles is simply captivating - quite literally. Helen Money has achieved a lot with very little production and has proven that less is more. Here is a record that contains the accessibility of punk music with about half the instruments and an added hint of that classical sophistication. Arriving Angels defies convention and what comes out is a beautiful concoction.

Track List:
1. Rift
2. Upsetter
3. Beautiful Friends
4. Radio Recorders
5. Midwestern Nights Dream
6. Arriving Angels
7. Schrapnel
8. Runout

Helen Money - Arriving Angels
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

85 / 100
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