Review Summary: Ambient cello-doom? It's real.....
Helen Money not so much plays the cello as she makes it her bitch, forcing out noises from her poor instrument in ways that would make classical aficionados cringe. Interestingly (and fortunately), she chooses to make ambient doom music with her skill set and with the enlistment of Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder, Arriving Angels
dark atmosphere is palpable, painted literally by the brush of the artist. Money’s bleak soundscapes aren’t revolutionary as far as the genre is concerned but make no mistake; the woman has been making waves for a long time.
Right of the bat, its should be noted Arriving Angels’
is heavy. Not Drop C, high-gain heavy, but bottom of the sea, weight of the ocean crushing you surrounded by darkness heavy. The thick, meaty strokes Money uses are both silky smooth and pitch perfect. Arriving Angels’
uses a combination pedals and looping to create this dense wall of sound to great effect, particularly in the title track “Arriving Angels” which has Money using some well meshed layers of sound and fitting them into her vision appropriately. This is minimalistic doom to the highest degree as naught but a cello and drums are employed throughout the record. This approach serves the tone well as its hard to imagine how any sort of electronic synth or effect could have supported this ultra-dark atmosphere. The inclusion of Roeder on drums serves as another testament to Money’s sharp focus on her vision and proves to be the perfect match. The drums hit extremely hard and provide good juxtaposition for the sound of the cello. While only showing up on four tracks, the punching drums enhance the mood immensely while never overpowering or drowning out the focus of the record, the cello.
Inherent in this record is the monotony that comes with such atmospheric albums. Roeder’s portions do break up this monotony, especially in the fast-paced “Radio Recorders” or the gradual build-up conclusion to “Shrapnel”. The sheer novelty of Arriving Angels’
is enough to give this a whirl and while this slow-burning ride won’t turn you to the dark side, those already swayed will find another good reason to stay.