Aluka @ Format (Basement)
3:00pm, Sun 4 Mar 2012
In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking scheduling Aluka on the same day as Jane Austen is Dead; even in the most optimal of conditions, a ten-minute hike from the Bakehouse to Format is pretty tough going. As a result, I’m running (literally) late, and I’m so glad of my shoes as I quietly pad down the stairs, gently buffeted by (what seemed to be) the sounds of angels coming from the basement.
The rough-hewn basement is packed with people of all ages, though there seemed to be a fair few families present; as I find my own little space at the back of the room, I check the crowd out. The adults are rapt, utterly engaged in what was being performed for them; even the small children seemed to cease their aimless squirming when Aluka were singing.
Aluka are a three-girl a cappella group from Melbourne, who perform on the very quiet end of the spectrum. Their songs are mostly performed very softly, with a delicacy that is utterly enchanting; breathy, airy passages are occasionally underpinned by gentle beatboxing percussion that is almost adorable. They are completely unafraid of letting silence work for them, of making the audience strain for the next note…
And their voices are gorgeous – sometimes pure and sweet, other times desperately sad and softly broken. Songs are largely folky in nature, varying tempos well measured by the girls; compositions usually focus on overlapping vocals, with some songs seeing each of the girls singing mere syllables, with entire words seemingly coalescing from nowhere. But, whilst I realise I’m painting a ridiculously twee memory of the show, there were some fantastic bits of humour in the delivery too – though one such moment was completely fortuitous, with the phone of one of the girls blurting out a perfectly timed text message notification at the end of their second song.
Look – I loved Aluka. Stunning voices, clever compositions, and a purity and sweetness that was a pleasure to revel in. I highly recommend checking out their first EP; while it lacks the spontaneity of a live performance, it shows off the group’s style wonderfully.