SENSE EP + This Picture Is A Dream
(Gorbie Intl Records)
A dual-project collaboration with Barry Brusseau/Gorbie International Records. We released these two projects together at a record/book release show at Beacon Sound (in Portland OR) on 8.31.18.
Gorbie Lathe Cuts also produced a very limited number of handmade 8-inch single lathe-cut records (bonus tracks).
THIS PICTURE IS A DREAM is a book of stories and poems (paperback, 100 pages), also available via Gorbie Intl Records.
1. the action or system of exchanging goods or services without using money.
1. exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.
This dual-release project was founded on a principle of barter and no-money. In his book The Gift, Lewis Hyde writes that “a work of art is a gift, not a commodity” and that “works of art exist simultaneously in two ‘economies,’ a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art.” In the making of these two projects, we bartered only our most essential “gift” resources: our skills in music and writing—a purely creative exchange. This is the spirit that has infused and steered the entire process (also the timing) of these two projects.
We began somewhere at the end of 2014, with the simple idea of recording in exchange for editing. We recorded at our friend Jon Ransom’s family’s semi-abandoned 70s-style suburban house out in Happy Valley, a gifted space, with ample rooms and high ceilings, and also some warnings not to step on certain rotting floorboards for danger of falling through. We recorded on a digital 8-track machine. Meanwhile, Barry sent me rough drafts of poems and stories and I saw quickly that he is the kind of writer—and artist—willing to work hard and very pragmatically at his craft, even taking on the challenge of mastering whole new mediums. I also saw themes of place, work, fathers and sons, stepfathers and sons, and the Portland-surrounding landscape as written through the eyes of a life-long resident. On the songs, Barry and I are the only musicians, save for Steve Hefter (St. Even) coming in to lend vocals to one song, and Barry’s brother, Tim Ward, adding drums to another. Eventually we transferred all the 8-track audio onto my laptop, and mixed songs in Barry’s music room and in my dining room. Editing and book layout were also done at home. The only money spent was at the final stages of turning the projects into objects – book printing, cassettes, etc.
How to make art and survive in a capitalist and material world—how to keep one’s spirit alight—is something many artists no doubt wrestle with. I don’t portend to have a solution. Just that I know, for myself, after years of paying for studio time, hiring players, sometimes wrangling relationships with some collaborators and producers (note: only some) who tell you you need to do things this or that way, this is the first record where I’ve felt the energy of the process, in its entirety, was untroubled, unfettered by constraints of either time or money. We took as long as felt right and needed, to finish both of these projects.
For me, these songs are small elucidations of the inner life, temporary emotional territories I’ve lived through, an attempt to articulate a private language that may or may not resonate with another’s, usually unspoken, perceptions or emotional experience. These are things we offer as “gifts” to one another. They may or may not be received, but at least they are given space to come into being.
-- Dao Strom
It seemed an unfair swap in commodities. In school I was a D- English student (Dao was not a D- musician), and I’m 35 years removed from that lowly grade level.
I had actually already used the barter concept with other projects. I made a recording engineer some furniture for recording time. I made a special guitar strap for a musician to play on my solo album. I cut some lathe cut records for another person. I made a table for another musician. The care it takes to do something for someone with your hands makes a real impression. You are giving your most valuable commodity: TIME!
I remember some of the first edit suggestion Dao returned to me. She had put lines through what I thought to be my most brilliant work. I learned to sit with the suggestions until my ego calmed down. Then I could clearly give it a fearless re-write. I learned to trust the guidance.
My recording process with Dao was similar. Give the song a listen and go with my instincts. Usually the same kind of guidance. You need to cut a verse and chorus. It redundant, and you began to lose me at minute 3:02. Without money on the table it gives the two of us all the time we need to get the best out of ourselves.
A theme running through both projects was: less is more. Sometimes you just got to pile on the bells and whistles first, then, begin tearing it down. Knowing what you’re rebuilding will be a cleaner sharper version.
-- Barry Brusseau
bIOS / CREDITS
Track List :
Vocals, guitar, piano - Dao Strom
Electric Guitars, Ambience, E-bow, Moog - Barry Brusseau
Guest Vocals on Track 3 - Steve Hefter/St. Even
Drums on Track 4 - Tim Ward
Recorded by Barry Brusseau
Mixed by Dao Strom & Barry Brusseau
Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk/Stereophonic Mastering
Cassette Printing by Rory Sparks
Cover Art & Design by Dao
With thanks to Jon Ransom for the recording house.
Bonus Tracks List :
1. Fade Into You (Mazzy Star cover)
3. Sense (acoustic demo)
Bonus Track 1 recorded live with Barry Brusseau.
Bonus Track 2 recorded by Jake Kelly, with William Joersz on bass.
Bonus Track 3 demo recorded by Dao.
dao strom was born in Saigon, Vietnam and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She is the author of four books, including the hybrid project We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People, a memoir accompanied by a music album, East/West (2015). The Sea and The Mother is her music project.