Although the band emerge from Berlin’s cassette underground, their brittle sound is closer to the likes of Nocturnal Emissions or Cabaret Voltaire in England than to their German counterparts. David Tibet, treading a similarly radical path with Throbbing Gristle, pens these words on ALU: "With superficial similarities to some of the other 'cold-wave' groups of the Berlin scene of the time, ALU possessed a sharp, cutting and motorised beat with the guttural sound of those at war with anything around them."
The first realignment comes in 1981 when vocalist Nadja Molt joins the group. Her voice cuts deep furrows into the tracks, at times lurking ominously in the background, elsewhere virtually exploding out of certain tracks. Logged by the band as ALU II, this phase fails to produce any studio recordings, but two live LPs 'Störfaktor I - Alus Riskantes Experiment 31.7.81 im Risiko' (1981) and 'Licht' (1982) survive as audible witnesses. Ludwig Papenberg leaves before the year 1982 reaches its conclusion; Vester and Molt continue as a duo, now ALU III, resolutely pursuing the principles of concentrated improvisation and maximum creative autonomy.
"We aim to store as many sounds, noise and rhythmic frameworks as possible in our synthesizers and drum machines or we allow them to unfold naturally when we play live. Words and vocals are snapshots – spontaneous phenomena."
Thus read the notes accompanying the 1983 live cassette 'Geistige Erneuerung'. Two other cassettes are released the same year: 'Ungesunde Traumbilder' and 'Attrition/Alu'. These prove to be the final studio recordings before ALU exit the scene with a concert at the Fabrik, Hamburg, entitled 'Performance und kein Ende'. The year is 1986.
The ALU oeuvre covers seven years of divergent creativity, yet the group’s inner compass never wavers.
ALU represent understated understatement, their music touching on genres such as electro, techno or IDM which would only materialize years later. Repetitive sequences sound like taut loops, their frequencies tuned to allow the original sample to shine through in skeletal fashion.
'Die Vertreibung der Zeit' is more than a mere historical document – in order to understand the bigger picture of contemporary club culture, this collection is an essential piece of the puzzle.