Someone once told me 'You can do more with less'. That's a very McGuyver saying, isn't it? I mean, McGuyver made bombs out of a pencil, a piece of gum and a flashlight, so he definitely did more with less. But I never assumed music could hold that came principle. The singer/songwriter types, whose only instruments are an acoustic guitar, don't count, because they're really more about the story than the music. It's the other guys and gals who do solo projects without computers or synths that really work hard to attain this notoriety. With Arriving Angels, Helen Money can claim this honor as well.
Helen Money is, put simply, a cellist. But what she does with that cello may surprise you. Mixing avant-garde sensibilities with metal and punk themes, Helen Money destroys your ideas of what a solo performer can do. Having first seen her on youtube playing her rendition of "Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing" by The Minutemen, I roughly knew what I was getting into. Of course, things have a way or surprising you.
"Radio Records" and "Beautiful Friends" feel very thrashy, erasing the doubt in your mind that a cello couldn't play brutal music. They never try to be too experimental, instead creating an atmosphere that looms over you long after the song is done. "Shrapnel" sounds like the song that would play to a criminals hanging in the wild west. It's foreboding, and drives along with an unassuming drum beat that pummels you with it's dread. It's the kind of song you get great ideas from because of the inspiration it gives you.
When not crushing your soul with metal themed songs, Helen Money manages to find her classical roots. "Midwestern Night Dreams" displays her talent as a cellist first and foremost, sounding more like a free-form jam session then an actual song. I like the inclusion of this song into the album because it shows her range and ability to work with various genres of music. She could have made an album of nothing but minimalist metal, but she throws this in for good measure, helping break any monotony that might have built along the way.
Arriving Angels actually came out in February, so I'm a bit late to the game, but I still felt the need to review it because of it's originality. There's nothing here that screams of pretentiousness, and that works in Helen Moneys favor. An artist could get lost in their own admiration doing something different, but she stays grounded in making cool music first and foremost. With this album, it proves her skill as a musician and purveyor of original music, and that makes her all the more worth while to follow. So, for those of you out there struggling to find your musical identities, take a note from Helen Money, and try to do more with less. - Shane