- by Jim Harris Rating:3 Release Date:2016-09-16 Label: Thrill Jockey
I’ve always been impressed by headbanging metal cellos ever since I heard Rasputina for the first time in the 90s. Melora Creager, who is Rasputina, played in Nirvana and Marilyn Manson and her 1996 album ‘Thanks for the Ether’ is a classic. So my expectations were high for Helen Money, who is actually six years older than Melora. I fully expected her to sound more like Motorhead or Black Sabbath.
I’m not connecting the metal dots with Helen Money. Alison Chesley, who plays under the name Helen Money, and her new album, Become Zero, comes across as pretty much a slightly eclectic classical act that will occasionally amp up the cello to a moderately high level. You also add to the fact that Rasputina had a heavy metal aesthetic wrapped around excellent, and sometimes brilliant lyrics about steampunk and marginalized historical women, well, Helen Money comes across as downright dull in comparison, without vocals or rhythm. It’s plain straight up classical atmospheric drones and moody, often slow-paced progressions.
Granted, I’m not one of those that listen to challenging, hear it about a dozen times before you get it people, but I did give Become Zero as many listens as I could muster.
This sort of music belongs in a Chamber Hall, not Pop’s Warehouse, where I saw Rasputina last in 2007. I’m sure in concert Helen Money will kick out the jams with some of her past metal influences, but there is little like that on Become Zero. Occasionally a track like ‘Leviathan’ starts out like it is going somewhere, but then the self-conscious repetition and calculated constraint sinks in, and well, it’s more for the classical listener than the alternative one.