The Upshot: Rock ‘n’ roll cello player submits a tour de force of rage, sorrow, and acceptance.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Cellist Alison Chesley uses her instrument less as a background or harmony player, or a conveyance of classical technique, than as an emotional weapon. Her work as Helen Money allows her to dig deep, literally and figuratively, into her axe’s possibilities, pushing its ability to drone and distort to its limit in service of her self-expression.
Become Zero, recorded after both her parents died, finds her traversing the cello’s entire range. Haunting legato lines conjure up ghosts, while ragged grunge licks banish them again. Her bow waxes mournful, wistful and angry, usually within the same song, and often one right after another, simulating the kind of emotional rollercoaster ride we all take when those close to us pass on. Chesley uses occasional piano and electronics to augment her string work, while drummer Jason Roeder from Neurosis adds percussive accents from time to time. It’s a tour de force performance that never revolves around technique – instead Chesley channels her rage, sorrow and acceptance into sometimes soothing, sometimes serrated devotions of pure, unadulterated feeling.
DOWNLOAD: “Radiate,” “Leviathan,” “Machine”