Acclaimed cellist Alison Chesley aka Helen Money recently released her new and most intimate album to date. Simon Tucker reviews for Louder Than War.
Born out of a sense of grief and a reassessing of relationships / connectivity, Atomic is an album that swallows you whole, painting paths for us to emotionally follow for its duration. The cellist Helen Money has stripped her work in to a more minimalist style and in doing so has created a work that is beautiful, dense and rich. Atomic feels like the more rebellious and experimental cousin to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool in parts and whilst it is wordless it still has plenty to say about the human condition and how we relate to each other.
Like her peers Hildur Guðnadóttir, Colin Stetson, Warren Ellis and Jóhann Jóhannsson, Helen Money manages to twist new experimental sounds and textures from her instrument of choice whilst retaining a respect and love of its heritage creating a fusion of the classical and the avant-garde. This duality is what drives Atomic along as we feel well-known emotional pull of the cello on tracks like Coppe and Coil yet they are always counteracted with more abstract instrumentation whether that be driving percussion, static synths or heavy loaded guitars which take some of the songs here in to a more post-rock direction.
Atomic never sits still for too long with Money often including many counteracting melodies in the space of one song helping the album feel restless and in a perpetual state of motion which is a good thing as it gives the album a great sense of dynamics and keeps your attention on it throughout. The ebb and flow is vital and Money manages to balance the dark and light aspects of the album wonderfully well which again drives home to the listener that sense of going through grief and what it feels like to reassess our relationships with family and friends. If you’ve been through the loss of a Grandparent or two you will know first hand what that can do to a family dynamic. It is difficult to understand as a child but when you’re older you get to realise how important certain people are in the family and how their leaving can create a vacuum that will never again be filled. Atomic manages to capture this perfectly and with no bells and whistles.
Helen Money has created a direct and emotionally stunning album which can flip between tenderness and fear, rage and serenity. A perfect example of a universal story being told by a master of their craft. Thoroughly recommended.