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Album Review: HELEN MONEY Become Zero

Posted by on September 19, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Helen Money is hands down one of the most interesting creations in heavy music. The brainchild of mastermind Alison Chesley this is the sort of project that fuses experimental music, doom metal, and so, so much more. Her latest offering Become Zero is exactly the sort of highly cerebral magic that so many of us fell in love with in the first place. Sure this record isn't for everyone, but if you can pick your way through her complex compositions and beautifully executed orchestrations you will find something greater. Become Zero is at once dream-y and surprisingly down to earth. While Chesley has no problem creating ethereal soundscapes she also has conjured up some of the most jarring sounds I've heard all year. The ebb and flow of her sound, the rising forces and receding waves leave you in utter awe. In a world where a lot of intellectualized heavy music is overwrought, Helen Money allows sparse instrumentations to abound and I can't help but to spin this record again and again.

One of my favorite elements on Become Zero is the incredible use of the piano. Sure, the cello is, and always will remain, the defining instrument for this project, but on tracks like "Blood And Bone", the tortured minor key cough of the piano serves to provide a stunning backdrop for some of Helen Money's most powerful cello lines.  Meanwhile, when the piano takes on a more subdued role, those few touches of pure melody or even just chordal padding help to fill out the sound and allow you to take unexpected twists and turns. See, Helen Money remains triumphant because everything that Alison Chesley does exists in a very specific sonic universe, one that is almost impossible to properly define and which will have you coming back, falling in love every time, a slave to the masterwork that she has pieced together here. The layers of effects she uses and the crashing melodic lines create potent dissonance but always seem to resolve in masterful and delicate ways.

What gets me about Helen Money, time and time again, is the sheer diversity of the music. There are moments that sound like they were taken straight from a classical suite, others that sound like a Subrosa album and still more which remind me of someone like Shostakovich. It takes a real musical genius to pull something like that off and Helen Money does it with aplomb. Yes, this record remains a little too dense for casual listening, but I get the distinct impression that casual listening is not the point of Helen Money. Rather you need to sit down and enjoy it for what it is: a stunningly composed and beautifully arranged high art album that is going to make you question the boundaries of what music can be. Helen Money is one of the most fascinating composers out there right now and I'm excited to keep digging through Chesley's music.

Score: 8/10

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