[1 August 2010]
Chicago composer Alison Chesley and the unique, innovative ways by which she manipulates her cello have been fixtures of the American rock underground for over 15 years. A quick survey of her resume displays a dizzyingly vast array of prolific acts for whom she’s arranged strings, including such names as MONO, Anthrax, Bob Mould, Russian Circles, Broken Social Scene and, um, Disturbed (but don’t hold that against her). However, under the handle Helen Money, the former co-founder of alt-coustic rock duo Verbow really shows what she can do on that giant violin with her second solo venture. Recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio by acclaimed avant-metal producer Greg Norman, and utilizing an arsenal of effects pedals and amplifier fuzz, Chesley transforms her otherwise prim and proper instrument into a weapon of mass destruction on In Tune, emanating sounds that range from the hushed pastoral drones of minimalist classical to feedback-drowned sonic eviscerations that sound as menacing as anything that emits from the guitar of King Buzzo of the Melvins, as evidenced by such tracks as “Sagrada” and an unrecognizable cover of the Minutemen’s “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing”.