by Alvira

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"On December 7th 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the next day the United States declared war. On February 16th 1942 a meeting was held at a small stone church in Alvira, a small farming town in north-central Pennsylvania. The town residents had been hearing rumors that their land might be taken to facilitate the building of a "large factory". Three months after Pearl Harbor on March 7th 1942 another meeting was held at the Stone Church. Government representatives announced plans to seize over 8,000 acres in Lycoming and Union counties for an undisclosed war purpose. The federal government had already paid $15 million dollars to Stone & Webster, the general contractor, and the U.S. Rubber Company had been awarded a contract to operate a TNT plant in Pennsylvania. Residents were told they would have the opportunity to buy back their land. On April 14th ground was broken, the bulldozers moved in and the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works was born. It lasted as a production facility for only 11 months. On January 13th 1944 the War Department gave orders to cease TNT production (due to the progress of the Manhattan Project) and on April 15th the POW closed it's doors. The entire site was listed for sale on October 30th 1944 with the Surplus War Property Division cautioning that much of the land might be contaminated with acid and that the few remaining structures had five year life expectancies at best. The complex was deactivated on December 31st 1950. Former land owners have never been given the opportunity to purchase back their parcel of land.

Over the spring and summer of 2010 I had taken to doing a bit of rambling, and one of the places i continually revisited was Alvira. Abandoned places have always attracted me for some reason and this is one with dual meanings. On one hand a former farming community, on the other a military ordnance construction and storage facility. Add some connections to the nuclear programs, United Nations (this site was once considered as a world headquarters), JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) projects, and the story of the fight to save Alvira and this land takes on a certain charge.

It was during this time also that Alex Callenberger, Val LaCerra and myself at first flirted with and finally committed to working on a project together. We got together a few times a week, and when we weren't recording I was stealing away to some forest or another, or being drawn back to Alvira.

This was a project I had dreamed about for some time. It is always a pleasure to work with friends whose work you admire. Just like other projects I had some vision in my head of what it would be like, and just like other projects it turned out differently. That is the true beauty of creation, when the unexpected blooms, and you yourself are surprised.

We would gather in my room, sometimes as a group and sometimes as a pair, and collectively explore abandoned sonic temples, shrines, and vistas. Places we had left behind or maybe were too scared to venture alone, places that held spiritual power for us. As we progressed we sent each other off in turns on solo meditations, to find the keystone needed to proceed. We challenged and nodded heads. It was all over much to soon, but our fever-dream still rings out, across the corn fields and the drill pads and the junkyards and highways. Across Alvira and through us all. "
-Fletcher Kaufman

"To my delight, when I hear many of the songs from this album, I think of that summer we recorded, sitting in Fletcher’s tiny room surrounded by obscure low-budget horror films and found art stacked to the high ceiling—listening to fresh tracks and imagining how I might influence them. One time, I was coming down off a conversation in the kitchen with Fletcher’s sister Moriah, and wisps of her stories of shamans swam about my prospective lyrics and melodies. Another time, Fletcher told me something he had heard in a documentary: the idea that when a child first approaches an instrument, she or he has no concept of how the instrument is traditionally used, and so the child will slap and pull on guitar strings while the thing lay on the floor. I tried not to think of how this related to me, a virtually untrained musician, instead enjoying the sheer enchantment with our queer spiritual relationship to sound—an enchantment that stuck with me as we moved from there to working on Alvira for the day.

This is what interested me in the project: Fletcher, Alex and I all respected each other for what we had done in our distinct musical sandboxes, but the three of us never played together. Collaborating made sense, and I was excited to blend our unique qualities together. But Alvira challenged me: our decidedly experimental approach demanded I venture outside my comfort zone. I played instruments I don’t usually play, arranged my first beats; I played a freaking Atari. To me, the final product, Alvira, is like a photo album. There’s us in Fletcher’s bedroom, approaching this thing for the first time, not knowing what to do with it and not caring! Just banging on it while it lay on the floor day after day like a child with its first guitar; no beliefs about what it should be. Just accepting it. Not resisting it. Almost attacking it. I don’t know if we can recreate that again, so I’m glad we recorded it!"
-Val LaCerra

"Working with Fletcher and Val on this project was our own twisted version of musical chairs. At times Fletcher and I would blindly start in to a new project by leaving it to chance to find what musical madness would or might appear. Fletcher (the musical ring master) would set the pace and leave the artistic freedom to its own devices. Our musical contribution and collaboration is like the mixed candy halloween bag of our dreams, or maybe just mine?? Val and Fletcher have a huge influence on my music, and at times I feel like the little kid dragging behind their constant musical evolution. This body of work will go down as on of my proudest moments to work with two wonderful friends and two amazing artists."
-Alex Callenberger


released April 5, 2011

Album: Alvira
Written, Recorded, and Produced by: Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Mastered by: Fletcher Kaufman
Art by: John Nicholson

March to Cairo:
Arrangement - Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Written by: Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Lyrics by: Val LaCerra

Fletcher Kaufman - Drums, Synth, Guitar
Val LaCerra - Vocals, Synth

Arrangement - Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Written by: Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Lyrics by: Val LaCerra

Alex Callenberger - Bass, Synth,
Fletcher Kaufman - Drums, Synth, Xylophone
Val LaCerra - Vocals, Synth

Arrangement - Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Written by: Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Lyrics by: Fletcher Kaufman

Fletcher Kaufman - Vocals, Drums
Val LaCerra - Banjo

Arrangement - Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Written by: Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra
Lyrics by: Val LaCerra

Fletcher Kaufman - Atari 800xl Computer and Vocal Samples
Val LaCerra - Vocals, Drums, Synth, Atari 800xl Computer and Vocal Samples

Arrangement - Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman
Written by - Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman, Val LaCerra

Alex Callenberger - Drums, Synth
Fletcher Kaufman - Manipulation, Drums, Synth
Val LaCerra - Vocals

Arrangement - Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman
Written by: Alex Callenberger, Fletcher Kaufman

Alex Callenberger - Guitar, Bass
Fletcher Kaufman - Drums, Synth

Arrangement - Val LaCerra
Written by - Val LaCerra

Alex Callenberger - Bass
Fletcher Kaufman - Drums, Synth
Val LaCerra - Vocals, Guitar, Accordion




Fletcher Kaufman Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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