West EP

by Dao Strom

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EAST/WEST is a 2-EP album that accompanies a book, WE WERE MEANT TO BE A GENTLE PEOPLE, by Dao Strom.

The "chapters" of the book correspond with song titles on the album. A memoir in text + image + song. Author/musician Dao Strom navigates the space between shores, mother and father, two cultures.

The daughter of writers, Dao Strom fled Vietnam with her mother at the end of the war. It was not until years later that she learned her father was still alive and had spent a decade in Communist "reeducation camps" as persecution for his work as a writer in the pre-1975 era of Saigon. This rift - caught between the forward-looking mother who severed ties with the past, and the only tenuous presence of a father who could not turn away from the past - is the ethos behind this unique memoir, which renders itself also as an experiment in literary multimedia, combining text, image, and song. Strom juxtaposes documentary images next to family memorabilia to ruminate on the intersection of personal and collective histories, and offers up a re-imaging of cultural and folk myths along the way. Her autobiographical essays are candid at the same time they are enigmatic, playing with white space and the shapes the text makes on the page. The result is a multidimensional work that draws disparate “voices” together into one confluent, challenging whole.


released 26 May 2015

all songs by dao strom
except 'hell's gate' by dao strom and darwin smith
and 'sometimes I feel like a motherless child' (traditional)

mixed by dylan magierek at type foundry/mix foundry ~ portland, or
mastering: timothy stollenwerk/stereophonic mastering

vocals, guitar, keys: dao strom
electric guitar on tracks 2 and 4, vocals on 2 - nial nutter
bass on tracks 4 and 5 - william joersz
bass, percussion, recording on track 3 - darwin smith
drums on track 4 - zane carter cook
drums on track 5 - lincoln meeker
cymbals on track 5 - dylan magierek

Track 1 recorded by dao at home
Tracks 2 and 4 recorded by dylan magierek at type foundry
Track 3 recorded by darwin smith in austin texas, with additional recording by dao
and Track 5 recorded by hershel yatovitz, with bass and drums recorded by dylan magierek at type foundry studio




feeds for this album, this artist


The Sea and The Mother Portland, Oregon

my given name is tiêu-dao....
i was born in Viet Nam, in the wake of a war.
i am the daughter of writers,
i am also the daughter of a political prisoner. but i followed my mother -
i am one of the children divided
between mother & father / mountains & sea / between
i am part of the middle world; a hybrid; a troubadour.

these are my notes from the southern world.
... more

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Track Name: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
sometimes i feel like a motherless child
sometimes i feel like i'm almost done
but such a long way from home
Track Name: Hell's Gate
These hills of gold are all I have
to offer you, my men, my men
& gold you may find here & toil you will, my dears
but richer will be the ones who vanish their greed

to find within the trees
the secrets my daughters keep
& the ages do bleed
& their patient eyes weep

long have they scratched my skin
and teased my bones
they dressed in feathers and skins
they marked the stones
they climbed quiet as mice to heights
humans don't belong
to heights humans don't belong

& then came Fraser's men and the lady
whose search would never end
for the men lost at sea
to the dark northern degrees

My veins they named a portal to hell,
my blood was turbulent
& for the canyons walls they scaled
I claimed to souls of some of them

& on my belly they did lay a powder soft and grey
They set this afire with a kiss
with a kiss, with a kiss

& the hole this love did create
grew into a cave that the men could climb
deep inside
to extract the substance I hide
Track Name: Two Rivers
Two rivers meet where the water is warm
Two rivers meet where the water is warm
Blackberries stain my childish hands
Blackberries stain my childish hands

it must’ve been the Fall in Washington
Mother says it was in Washington
where we saw two rivers cross
one from the valley
one from up on the rocks
one streamed cold, one streamed hot
in a blackberry forest I saw
the two rivers join into one

Father killed a snake with his bare hands
Father killed a snake with his bare hands
Blackberries on my tongue under the sun
Blackberries on my tongue under the sun

it must’ve been the sun on the hill in Montana
the grass under my hands & my mother & my father
I remember when, I remember when
the blackberries stained my hands
& the water that I washed in then
was Cold on one hand was Hot on the other
was Cold on one hand was Hot on the other
you were angry, you were angry
but the memory is only blackberries
my father the fire, my mother the earth
my father the water, my mother the earth
my father the shadow, my mother the earth

((if I could sing this to the boy in Washington he might understand better the mountain))