With one Grammy nomination and two years of solo touring under his belt for 3D, his debut release on Sugar Hill Records, inventive genre-warping fiddler Casey Driessen has recorded a fascinating new CD.
On his independently released follow-up, Oog (Red Shoe Records, May 12 release), Driessen goes beyond the "look-at-me" attitude of a predominantly instrumental record and focuses energy towards his talents as a composer and producer. Drawing solely on the past two years of musical and world travel experience, Oog ebbs and flows through dynamic sonic landscapes of color and texture extremes - aggressive to beautiful, dense and airy, intense yet relaxed. For those fans of Casey's signature chop style of funky fiddle percussion and his fierce powerful solos, have no fear; you will find what you seek. His trusty sidekick, 5-String Fiddle, speaks with a soulful and passionate maturity that respects the diverse moods of the melodies. And, although you can't hear them (or can you?), you know he's wearing red shoes.
On this journey with Driessen is a core band of feared fearless tone adventurers: Matt Chamberlain (drums, percussion, electronic mangulation, fiddlesticks), Viktor Krauss (basses), Darrell Scott (electric guitars and pedal steel guitar), and Jason Lehning (co-producer and engineer). Well respected and well recorded in their own right, Oog marks the first occasion for these five to be together for all of one rehearsal and three days in the studio. On select tracks, Fognode adds splashes of nuance with his combination of lap steel, synth, and field recordings.
Oog (the title was inspired by MC Escher) reflects Driessen's time as a live performer pulling largely from world travels as a collaborator, solo artist, and in-demand sideman. Developing his own show, both solo and as a drums/bass/fiddle power trio he calls the Colorfools, Driessen has explored some of the finest stages in the US including Merlefest, Festival Miami, and Millennium Park. As side artist and collaborator he has traveled from his home in Tennessee as far as Lhasa, Tibet, gracing venues like Bonnaroo, Telluride Bluegrass, Tønder Festival, and more with diverse artists Béla Fleck, Tim O'Brien, Steve Earle, and Leftover Salmon. The past year has been spent in relentless touring, including a stop at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, with the critically acclaimed Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet, in support of their full-length debut.
The end result is a exploratory, experimental, and progressive fiddle record, stemming from a deep passion for tradition and improvisation, embodied by a rock infused groove based interpretation of genre-bending (blending?) original compositions and three de'rrangements of others. At its core, Oog is a voyage through the mind and existence of an individual finding inspiration in all that life offers. Casey invites you to turn your cell phone off, shut down your computer, make yourself comfortable, close your eyes, and experience music.