Trace by Helen Money / Will ThomasRelease date: May 12, 2023
Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Taking aspects from Casals, Minutemen, Shostakovich, and Jimi Hendrix, Alison Chesley (Helen Money) has worked with bands and artists such as Neurosis, Steve Albini, and Jarboe. Not to mention opening up for the Zeuhl masters of prog, Magma, who she toured with in the States, seven years ago.
Will Thomas also has a resume as well. Composing TV, commercials, and film. He was hired to work on the score for the dark / techno sci-fi series GvsE, The Haunted Swordsman (which won best score at the 2021 Filmquest Film Festival), and has an ongoing collaboration with Roger Eno.
Trace marks the first collaborative album between Thomas and Chesley. Between Alison’s cello and Will’s keyboard sound, it brings a sense of a darkened underworld that is ready to be unveiled. This here is a soundtrack for the chaotic nightmares that are about to be unfold.
The sounds on ‘Glass Shattered’ become a twisted cry for help after a terrifying incident inside the mental institution as ‘Boulevard in Silence’ sounds like you’re being trapped in an abandoned mall with the ghosts haunting the place with anger, resentment, and making the engines chug out of the blue to make your skin crawl.
The combination of ‘Half Asleep’ and ‘Half Awake’ turn into a mournful loss between Helen and Thomas’ cello and piano. Each having a sense of guilt, overridden with grief, and picking up the pieces to decide what will happen next. The duo has cooked up this unbelievable loss in a discomfort twist before the clock starts to tick with dire consequences on the booming effects with ‘Tilt’.
Militant drones, screeching static, going insane, flashes of disturbing images coming to life, Alison and Will bring all of those ingredients to the forefront.
Trace may take a while to get into, but it’s a hell of a challenge they’ve unleashed. And I had a lot of goosebumps going through this maze with their new album.