With a number of published poetry collections and novels, Portland-based Dao Strom is the type of artist who has always found new avenues to create. On Redux, Strom’s follow-up album to 2020’s Traveler’s Ode, it’s yet another world in which the multidisciplinary artist has built.
Strom’s poetic sketches are prevalent throughout Redux ‒ her ghostly stories gently pushed through a cinematic lens, and the result is a voyage that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Pieces that have been written over the last two decades and reworked and re-imagined, this is a release that sees Strom moving between the worlds of cinema and music, and by the end of Redux, she orchestrates a ceremonious amalgamation of the two.
Clocking in at over seven minutes, opening song, Day That We Met, is a gorgeous epic lullaby firmly entrenched in the ethereal dream-state. So good, it’s hard to imagine Strom bettering it, but Only Angel just about does. Another atmospheric folk jaunt that has you floating in the ether and pinching yourself as to whether this is actually real or not.
From here, the floating nightscapes unfurl as if they were produced from a dream machine. The titles Caller of Spirit and Jesus Darkness tell us all we need to know about the songs themselves.
The middle section of Redux sees Strom adopting more straightforward methods. Everything that Blooms Wrecks Me, Inside and Ancestors all acoustic-led elegies that don’t quite have the same impact as the early part of Redux, but none the less are songs tailor-made for dark rooms to experience in solitude. No bad thing, of course.
Motherbear sees these methods incorporated with the foggy aesthetic of the Redux’s earliest moments – a song which sees Strom guiding us through a misty labyrinth. Something removed from the woodsy finesse of Waking and closing track, Innocent – completely effortless numbers that Strom could have written on her couch in five minutes; the kind of songs that are gifted from a sky-dwelling spirit.
So many artists try to create what Doa Strom has here, but few have captured the heart like this. The songs on Redux are reshaped into the kind of tangled beauty that is unparalleled. Not since Anne Garner’s Lost Play has something in this space felt so poignant.
While it’s not something that will command back-to-back-listens, Redux is more for those opportune moments. And when those moments arrive there is no better companion. As far as sparse folk music in 2022 is concerned, there will have to be something truly special to transcend the grace of Doa Strom’s Redux.
Redux is out now via Antiquated Future. Purchase from Bandcamp.