Cellist and composer Alison Chesley has been busy since the 2016 release of Become Zero (Thrill Jockey). She transcribed Bob Mould’s string arrangements and performed cello on his latest record, Sunshine Rock; co-wrote and recorded a horror movie soundtrack with producer-engineer Steve Albini and guitarist Tim Midyett that is set for release on Touch and Go Records later this year; toured extensively throughout the US and Europe as a headliner and opened for Grails, The Messthetics, and doom metal legends, Earth; and with writing partner Will Thomas she composed music used for the trailer of the film The Invisible Man. Most importantly, she wrote and recorded the tracks for Atomic, her new album released on Thrill Jockey on March 20, 2020.
The reviews for Atomic are strong and are consistent with the response Chesley received when she performed music from the album on last Winter’s tour with Earth. Echoes and Dust, a London based webzine, is typical. “Starting with ‘Facing the Sun’ from Become Zero, Money uses violent bowing and gritty distortion to quickly establish what can only be known as Cello Doom: huge violent bursts, following her trademark patterns of closely-slurred, eerily beautiful double-stop harmonies. On ‘Nemesis’ (from Atomic), Money uses her cello as even more of a percussive instrument, roughly striking the distorted strings with her bow, like sawing metal on metal, the tone dial on full treble to allow for all the detail of sharp clonks and clanks. I’m fascinated watching the spider-like spread of her left hand, fingering complex, full chords, and as she methodically strikes the strings behind the nut for high, piano-like sounds.”
Cutting across multiple genres including classical, punk, indie rock and metal, her cello playing can be found on over 150 albums including recordings from artists as diverse as Anthrax, Chris Connely, Russian Circles, Broken Social Scene, Bob Mould, Sea and Cake, Mono, and Verbow, the late 1990s band she co-founded with guitarist Jason Narducy that began her move away from classical cello. Chesley has also opened and toured with artist such as Shellac, Sleep, Neurosis, Mono, and Russian Circles.
Atomic is Alison Chesley’s fifth album of solo material following Helen Money (Cellobird Records 2007), In Tune (Table of The Elements, 2009), Arriving Angels (Profound Lore, 2012) and Become Zero (Thrill Jockey, 2016). She currently resides in Chicago.