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Song Premiere: "VALE" (feat. Midwife) by Allison Lorenzen

Allison Lorenzen
21 January 2021

Allison Lorenzen – Photo Credit: Kyle Johnson

As one half of the synth/percussion duo School Dance, Denver-based artist Allison Lorenzen became adept at pulling beautiful vocal melodies across skeletal compositions, bringing barren landscapes into full bloom.

On Lorenzen’s first solo outing, she enlists the talents of Madeline Johnston’s shoegaze project Midwife (The Flenser) to root her spectral vocals, keyboards, and slow-motion percussion to the earthy loam of the terrestrial plane.

The term vale can be used to describe a valley or depressed place in the earth. Poetically, the vale has been used to personify a place of mourning and deeply felt grief; place where light refuses to penetrate. Similarly, the word veil can also be taken in this manner…

Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of Lorenzen’s haunting debut tune “VALE,” which presses down with Johnston’s buzzing guitar reverberations, sustained, but subdued synths shine, a wandering piano line, and a metronomic ticking beat.

Lorenzen’s bittersweetly aching vocals float over the the feedback-driven drone like a lost angel searching for her home. Lorenzen sighs regretfully, “I’m like a vale in the night,” an image of complete darkness; of pitch-black depths that we know are hidden in the psyche, a forbidding place that most are loathe to fathom…

Lorenzen unveils details about the song and its meaning, revealing, “I wrote the first part of the song years ago while living in Philly, just after having read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The post-apocalyptic imagery of barren and desolate landscapes that inspired the song feel fairly relevant today as Colorado has just experienced some of its worst wildfires in history, along with the devastation wrought by the pandemic.”

“The second half of the song conjures images and feelings put into words: about knowing when to let go, about the strength required to embrace the shadowy parts of ourselves that might otherwise be tempting to ignore. There’s a nod to Nabokov (who was apparently making a nod to Shakespeare in his novella) in the lines: “In the pale of the warmth, the pale of the fire.” To me, it’s a song about self-intimacy, strength, and illumination; about the willingness to sit in the darkness (‘I’m like a vale in the night’) and not run away.”

“Madeline Johnston (Midwife) and I met and became friends while playing many shows together in Denver and surrounding areas back when I had my band, School Dance and she was working the moniker of Sister Grotto. It was a dream to get to work together, as I’ve loved her music since the first time I heard it. On a chilly afternoon last February, we sat down in her home studio and laid down most of the tracks for VALE. She added her signature heavy fuzzy guitars and dreamy vocals to bring the song to its full incarnation. We sent material back and forth during quarantine- I recorded the piano and end vocals at my family’s home- until we arrived at the final version of the song.”