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By Charissa Zeigler

Pittsburg musician Laura Chu Wiens sways to a city jazz beat. Her stage name is AurallaurA and her new album, Exetastes is rooted in jazz while gathering offshoots of broad musical traditions she has studied. 

Biracial Chinese-American, she speaks Chinese and Spanish. She’s studied Southern Chinese ethnic minority group Lisu as well as Serbian folk music. Lyrically, there are elements of Alanis Morisette. Song events are enmeshed in the high-rises and sidewalks of the city. As part of the grassroots organization Pittsburghers for Public Transport which is aimed at improving transit for Pittsburghers of all racial and economic backgrounds it makes sense there’s a song called “City Sister, Homestead Heart.” 

The cover art for Exetastes in which Chu Wien’s face is painted in deep blue and purple evokes the titular ‘exastes’ wasp. This intensity transitions to a softer pixelated green field where the album lyrics are written on the back. The confrontational persona Chu Wiens invokes in her cover art reflects tensions within the symbiosis between nature’s stinger and stung. There are paradoxes in the album. Most importantly, there are demands to be listened to and heard. 

Chu Wien’s jazz wails transport you to the Pittsburgh Jazz venues she frequently performs in. “I felt the earthquake / I felt pleasure” Chu Wiens declares in the opening track “But, You Know.”