Thalia Zedek

Thalia Zedek

Helen Money

Thu, December 13, 2018

9:00 pm

The Hideout

Chicago, IL

$10.00

Thalia Zedek
Thalia Zedek
Thalia Zedek is an unparalleled voice in rock music. Her music straddles the line between intimate and visceral. Zedek has received wide acclaim for her intense vocal performances and guitar playing in past projects Come, Uzi, Live Skull, and most recently her new trio E with Gavin McCarthy (Karate) and Jason Sidney Sanford (Neptune). Since the dissolution of Come, Zedek has focused her solo efforts on more vulnerable, stripped back arrangements. Her new album Fighting Season combines the grit of her past with the fragility of her solo releases, spinning tales of discord and struggle from the personal to the political and featuring performances by old friends Chris Brokaw (Come) and J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.). Through her exceptional songwriting and performances, Thalia Zedek’s fervent passion can be felt more than ever on Fighting Season, from blustering swirls of dissonance to hushed whispers.

“Fighting Season” was a term originally coined for the period of time in Afghanistan when winter comes to an end and fighting in the region would resume. Zedek’s reinterpretation of the phrase instead turns the focus on resistance, on a time to fight for oneself or to protest the deteriorating political landscape. The songs across Fighting Season tell heartfelt stories of individuals battling for their own sense of peace. Title track “Fighting Season” exemplifies the album’s rebellious spirit with a steady, marching call to action against senseless conflict. “Bend Again” and “War Not Won” simultaneously explore battles with personal demons and addiction as well as the throes of political upheaval and failure. Zedek’s lyricism throughout beautifully captures a duality of individual and collective struggles, drawn from personal experiences, as well as those widely discussed in the media such as the turmoil in Syria and the plight of refugees. As a longtime advocate for those seen as “outsiders,” Zedek’s voice on these subjects holds a rare sense of poignance that few possess.

Thalia Zedek’s band on Fighting Season sees all of the players from her 2015 album Eve returning, including longtime collaborator and violist Dave Curry, as well as pianist Mel Lederman, bassist Winston Braman, and drummer Jonathan Ulman. Masterful arrangements unfold throughout the record which Zedek crafted as reflections of each story. Curry’s searching viola and guest Jonah Sacks’ longing cello lines underpin the melancholy of “We Will Roll.” Two of the album’s standout guest performances heighten the push and pull of album opener “Bend Again,” with subtle sliding guitar melodies by Zedek’s former Come bandmate Chris Brokaw, and the songs dramatic final act guitar solo by J. Mascis. The song had been written with Mascis’s solo in mind, but Brokaw’s contribution was the result of serendipitous circumstance, he and Zedek booking recording sessions in the same recording studio at the same time, just after his move back to Boston.

Fighting Season was recorded throughout late 2017 and early 2018 at Kimchee Records Studio by Andy Hong, another of Zedek’s frequent collaborators. The album was written leading up to and following the 2016 U.S. elections For both the recording and writing, Zedek took a more isolated approach than past albums, writing the material on her own and only presenting the songs to the full ensemble shortly before recording. This isolation leant itself towards crafting some of Zedek’s most direct, and emotive songs to date. Thalia Zedek has been lauded for decades for her ability to create such immediate, urgent music and Fighting Season finds Zedek at her sharpest, delivering potent yet raw songs that inspire hope in a time wrought with fear.
Helen Money
Helen Money
Helen Money’s Become Zero continues cellist Alison Chesley’s exploration of emotive and intense music. Written after the death of both of her parents, Become Zero amplifies Chesley’s musical ferocity with palpable sadness and striking beauty. Using her extensively manipulated cello, Chesley joins forces once more with drummer Jason Roeder (Sleep, Neurosis), Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s) and collaborator and co-producer Will Thomas (who provides sound effects and samples) on an album that is incredibly personal and visceral.

Through her music, Chesley takes us on a journey as she grapples with the concepts and the emotions of life’s end: loss, isolation, sorrow, peace and resolution. “Vanished Star” imagines a place where this life and what lies beyond it intersect in an eerie waltz between the piano and cello. “Facing the Sun,” takes its title from the loosely-translated name of the Tataviam Indians, who lived in the San Fernando Valley where Chesley grew up. “It also refers to my father who loved the Valley and loved sitting outside and feeling the sun on his skin,” Chesley says. “Radiate” begins in a place of struggle and hardship which is eventually transcended. The song starts with a dissonant, distorted chord on the cello and builds to a place where it fights with itself before finally falling apart. “To end the piece I wanted it to sound like it was dissolving into space - another reference to my father, who worked on the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs,” says Chesley. “Will and I even managed to replicate the sound of a satellite pinging at the end. The ending feels very peaceful to me. Resolved.”

On “Blood and Bone,” Chesley brought in pianist Rachel Grimes. While “Blood and Bone” is acoustic, don’t assume that it’s a gentler piece. “One of the things I struggle with as a composer is writing for my cello without any effects, especially music that is as powerful as my amplified pieces,” Chesley says. She had been practicing the 5th cello suite by JS Bach, a “very dark piece,” as she wrote Become Zero. In this suite, Bach has the cellist tune the top string down a whole step, and the music itself is very dissonant and powerful. Chesley wanted to incorporate the piano which adds a nice depth and percussiveness to the texture. So she opened the piece with those very stark chords and brought the cello in, letting it gradually take over.

Much of Become Zero was recorded at Thomas’ Los Angeles studio. Additional recording was done at Grimes’ studio outside of Louisville, Kentucky, and at East/West Studios in Hollywood. While Chesley had previously exclusively recorded analog to tape with Steve Albini, she went in a new direction for her Thrill Jockey debut. “I wanted to explore the freedom provided by digital recording,” Alison explains. “there is simply more flexibility with regards to multi-tracking...such as interfacing with electronic sounds, supplementing tracks with MIDI sounds, and ease of movement between the analog and digital domain. Become Zero’s songs called for a much wider palate of sounds.” Roeder’s drums were recorded separately at East/West Studios on a vintage Neve console. Chesley’s expanded approach to recording results in a beautiful mix of acoustic and processed sounds, a perfect fit for an album that is at once highly visceral and delicately ethereal.

Helen Money is equally at home in the New Music realm as she is in the New Metal realm. Chesley has toured extensively with an incredible array of musicians, including Shellac, Neurosis, Sleep, Russian Circles, Magma, Agalloch, Earth, and Nina Nastasia. Both Portishead and Shellac selected her for their respective All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals. Helen Money toured with Bob Mould in 2015, including a performance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Her history of collaborations with Chicago improvisers is extensive.

Chesley currently resides in Los Angeles and will be participating in a monthlong residency at the venue Complex throughout August 2016. Helen Money is actively touring throughout Europe and the United States. She will be touring again extensively in the fall and throughout 2017.

Facebook comments:

Venue Information:
The Hideout
1354 W. Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL, 60642
http://www.hideoutchicago.com