Alison Wonderland – ‘Loner’ Album Review

Photo Credit: Wasserman Music

Alexandra Scholler was born in 1986 and raised in Australia. She grew up in Sydney and trained as a classical cellist. During a night out, Alexandra heard the song “Silent Shout” by electronic music duo The Knife and it quickened her an interest in the possibilities that electronic music can afford an artist. She is a music producer and she DJs under the name Alison Wonderland.

Alison is one of the focuses of the 2020 documentary Underplayed, a film discussing the efforts of women in electronica fighting for the same regard and exposure as their male counterparts. She was listed by Forbes amongst the wealthiest and most powerful DJs in the world in 2019. Wonderland has also been extremely vocal and open about her struggles with depression and has used her position to champion the causes of international mental health awareness. Alison Wonderland’s art, perhaps more than many artists, is inextricably linked to her persona, and Loner is this fascinating artist’s third studio album.

Before we get into the music, the album imagery deserves a mention. The picture of a female face with clouds obscuring the eyes is striking, calling to mind “The Son of Man” by Rene Magritte. The visual is beautiful but melancholic, especially considering the album’s title, Loner. The listener is given a clue with this album cover what the artist has waiting for them.

Loner’s opening track, “Forever” opens up gently and soaring, and echoes Kate Bush until the electronic beat drops and brings us firmly into the 21st century. The crassness and whine of the lightning stings complement the airy openness of this beautiful song. The next track, “Safe Life” follows seamlessly from the first with almost no perceptible break between the two. Rolling along on a sea smooth beat Alison yells, “I’m not about the safe life!” and the audience can hear the doubt and conviction in equal parts in her voice.

Loner has nominally 12 separate tracks but the album functions as one unit, each song representing a mood that either flows effortlessly or clangs jarring and unexpectedly into the other as the case may be. The album gives the listener a slightly guilty, voyeuristic feeling, as though we have been eavesdropping on a private conversation or caught ourselves reading someone’s diary. This is because with this project Alison Wonderland has created an album where she has willingly invited her audience into the recesses of her psyche.

Alison Wonderland creates art of unparalleled intimacy. She bravely allows herself to be exposed by and through her creations. With Loner, we are taken on a trip through an artist’s subconscious and we stand in witness to her self-doubt, love, lusts, and demons so that we might be better able and more courageous to do the same with our own. This is an album to put on at dawn on a Sunday morning and attempt to get your house in order, metaphorically or otherwise.

Written by: Padraig Mara

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