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  • Cassette + Digital Album

    Limited Edition "VALES" cassette, originally released by Hope For The Tape Deck in 2015. Second printing of 200. High quality salmon-pink cassette tape manufactured by NAC. Lovely design by Alex Tatusian.

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    edition of 200 

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about (interactive website of film and song)

"Vale in the usual religious language of our culture is a depressed emotional place – the vale of tears... the valley of the shadow of death... a long depression or hollow... the world regarded as a place of troubles, sorrow, and weeping, and the world regarded as the scene of the mortal, the earthly, the lowly... the way of dreams, reflections, fantasies, reveries... where events are deepened into experiences." – James Hillman

In 2012 my best friend and longtime musical partner Dominic died of an unexpected series of strokes at the age of 23. In early 2013 I returned home to the rural area of Northern California where we grew up to grieve and recover from this almost inconceivable loss. Over the course of a few months I wrote a series of songs streaked through with memories, sorrows, hopes, and fears, with love for Dominic and with the pain of his passing – filled with light and dark, and with images of our home landscape – the hills and redwood forests, the strange suburbs and big box stores, track houses, old churches, wild rivers, salmon, deer, hawks, and the torn up earth left by wild boars…

In the fall of 2013 I returned to Brooklyn and asked my friends Ben Seretan, Eliza McKelway, Bryan West, and Trevor Wilson to start a new band with me. We recorded these songs in the depths of the coldest winter in memory in a 19th century Armory in Hoosick Falls, with JJ Beck at the control board.

During my time in California, as part of our work on the Koans and Performance Project, my friends Jessica Sledge and Richard Hunter-Rivera made a series of films of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, turning their unflinching eyes on the wild coast and mountains, on industrial agriculture and suburbia. They’ve edited these films to fit the songs.

I think it’s hard for us in our culture to accept anything that slows us down, stops us cold, makes us sad and humble and lowly and reminds us that we are creatures. But we all know that there are many, many things do this, over the course of a life. And maybe this isn’t so bad, because these things – although they’re often tragic – force us to forget our schemes and plans and really show up for life, they call us to the things of the world.

VALES, then, is a place where we can pause, stop, and listen, and reflect, feel our bodies and look around and remember that we are creatures with sorrows and pains and joys and this is in fact a wonderful thing… A series of deep pools, sheltered valleys...


released March 14, 2015

Asa Horvitz – singing, guitars, keyboards, electronics
Eliza McKelway – singing, electronics
Ben Seretan – guitars, electronics, singing, keyboards
Bryan West – cello, singing, keyboards
Trevor Wilson – singing, keyboards
JJ Beck – drums, piano
Sam Clement – bass

Project direction, words and music by Asa Horvitz, except for "Spell" by Asa Horvitz and Bryan West
Films shot by Jessica Sledge and Richard Hunter-Rivera
Additional salmon footage by Jon Warmerdam and Asa Horvitz
Recorded by JJ Beck at Akin Studios, Hoosick Falls, NY
Additional recording at Crazy Cat House in Bedstuy by Stu Watson
Mixed by Asa Horvitz and Neil Strauch
Mastered by Roger Seibel at SAE, Phoenix, AZ
Cassette design by Alex Tatusian
Website design/developer: Joey Lappin
Produced by Asa Horvitz, JJ Beck, and Bryan West
Released on Shatter Your Leaves Records and Hope For the Tape Deck in March 2015, with an installation and performance at New Amsterdam Records (aka Van Dyke Park)


Bill Horvitz, Robin Eschner, Mary Ann Ciavonne, Jack Ziegler, and Liz Peters for their love and grace in the face of loss. Bryan, Ben, Eliza, and Trevor for holding this music with me. JJ for January, driving, and everything else. John Tarrant and Susan Goyton for their insight and generosity. Roger for conversations and support. Patti Trimble and Douglas Kenning for their love and enthusiasm. Adam for reminding me to write in Descanso. Stu at Shatter Your Leaves for April and years of Brooklyn music and for helping this project get out in the world. Matt at Hope for the Tape Deck for always listening and for the cassette. Nat for Maine and for getting it. Michael and Curt at NewAm for hosting our shows. Joey for dedicating himself and making the site happen. Neil for ears and endless patience. Jes and Richard for their beautiful films. Lukasz, Gedney, Trevor, Nini, Kyle, Bob, and everyone else in the Koans and Performance Project for their initial work on these songs. John Warmerdam for the lead on the salmon trapped in the Navarro. The salmon in Austin Creek.

For Dominic.

All songs © 2013–2015 Songs About Buildings
VALES project © 2015 Koans and Performance Project
Funded in part by a grant from Rudolf Steiner Social Finance


all rights reserved



VALES Brooklyn, New York

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Track Name: Salmon Loops
In the drought who was stuck in the pool
Was that you was that you
I saw you there
I swore I saw you there
It's been a long time
It's been a long time
It's a river so put me in the water
It's a river so put me in the water
Track Name: Spell
Came back
Came back for you she said
Now you're on your own

Held the head and calmed you down
Golden strands and hand it over

What is the spell?

Off the mask and they'll calm down
On the beach at night

What is the spell?
Track Name: Fisher King
(Now around your eyes are summers I remember)

Set yourself up for a fall (I loved him like no other what is a young man what is)
Wind blows through your open back (standing on the roof watching the planes land)
Park the van on darkened city streets (storm is coming I can feel it coming now)
Will you move here to be with me? (we will walk in the park we will have real friends and our lives with never end)

Ride my bike on cracked city streets (I burst a tire on a sharp cut pipe)
Diving over curbs in Warsaw (you are getting sick we can see your bones)
What is it to lose control? (so many dead friends this year so many dead friends)
I will wear my shorts that smell like you

Flowers from the field of fear (I loved him like the tide I don’t know why)
How did you recognize the bride (there was no other was no others)
I found golden lions on your face (running free running free from my regime)
Your eyes held sway (just beyond the range of my darkest hour)

Put my hand just below your belly (all day driving up the one lane road one hand down you)
Pray for a full night of sleep
You told me I could take my time (is it really really true)
I wept an angel’s simple line (I loved him like no other what is a young man what is)
Track Name: Loop Loop
He’s the dark father’s
Only missing brother
Don’t let him get away
With any more murders

Loop loop until the end
Let in pig and monkey
God of time spit out my life
God of time spit out my life

He’s the dark father
And his missing brother
Don’t let them get away
With any more murders

Loop loop until the end
Let in pig and monkey
God of time spit out my life
God of time spit out my life

It’s cause you can’t breathe
That he wrestles with me
Track Name: Salmon Song
Keep it cold and keep it all at bay
The river and the car door is frozen
Ice skates cut through the frozen surface
Standing in the stream again thank god

Salmon came
Flew along the banks
Laid their sperm and eggs there
And we protected them

You were the one I wanted

I carried you
In a brown and silver stick
Until it was too late for you
We said our last goodbyes

Why could I not protect you?
A year could mean nothing
Track Name: Whalewatch
But I’m not stand by and watch
But I did
On the narrow bed

I didn’t call
Until she did
My phone sat on the counter

You lost your speech
They cut you up
While my phone sat on the counter

The octopus he got my stomach
Diving in the sheltered cove
The octopus he got my stomach
Driving north the jaws of hell

Morning came and then what
Morning came and then what

Walking on the headlands with your brother
You laid yourself down on the stone table
Walking on the headlands with your brother
Looking for whales

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