An Echo Location: Alu’s Cosmic Cabaret

The latest singer to carry the torch of Kate Bush into new terrain is named Alu

[You can also hear an Audio Version of this Blog, with Alu’s music]

Ziggy Stardust came from Mars, Sun Ra came from Saturn.  Alu isn’t from another planet, but sometimes she wants to be.

Alu: Ah, no, not really happy with earth, I sometimes not happy with the humans here, I think I’ve always felt like a bit of an outcast and you know, just, I think we all kind of want to go to that place where our family is, or the people who understand and support us are, and that’s kind of Mars to me.

You can hear Alu’s trip to Mars on a song called “Martian Rendezvous.” It’s one of the quirky, atmospheric and theatrical songs from her sophomore album, Lobotomy Sessions.

That seems like it might be an ironic punk title or the follow-up to Spinal Tap’s Intravenous De Milo.  But although her song “Recluse” appears in the new Clive Barker film, The Midnight Meat Train, Alu isn’t a morose Goth or raving headbanger. For the Los Angeles-raised singer, Lobotomy Sessions is more like therapy.

Alu: It is very healing for me and every, every song is very healing for me. They help me a lot.

Lobotomy Sessions doesn’t remove part of Alu’s head, but it does let us see the world inside it on songs like “Buzzin’ in My Brain.” It’s a spiritual and musical descendent of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’s “Twisted,” via Joni Mitchell.

Alu: Buzzin’ in My Brain is kind of about my relationship with music and creation and insanity, you know, because it’s the process is kind of maddening, so it’s not directly about therapy, but it is in a way because it’s, it’s about my form of therapy which is creating.

She’s a child of Hollywood animation artists and went to school at Cal Arts where she got the voice lessons that help set her apart. She’s been compared to Bjork and Tori Amos, cabaret and The Addams Family. But rarely have those elements come together with the haunting, and haunted charm you hear on the three ring pyschosis of her song, “Circus Cosmos.”

Alu is the latest in a string of idiosyncratic, introspective and provocative singers following in the tradition of Kate Bush. It’s a tradition that includes Happy Rhodes, Tori Amos, and Bjork. On her new CD is Lobotomy Sessions, Alu creates yet another new and inventive iteration of that muse.

You can hear an extended interview with her on Echoes Monday, July 21. You can also listen to an Audio Version of this Echo Location blog with music.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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