First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
Given that he has supported both Steve Earle and Robbie Fulks, it’s safe to assume that fiddler Casey Driessen approaches bluegrass from a slightly skewed perspective. Nevertheless, it’s only after hearing his debut outing 3D that one can begin to comprehend just how warped his viewpoint happens to be. The album opens with a complete recasting of Sally in the Garden, and Driessen essentially melts the traditional tune until it becomes a swirling sea of programmed beats and eerie, Middle-Eastern textures. In fact, so delightfully strange are his arrangements that those tracks that typically would have fallen within the realm of progressive bluegrass sound tame by comparison. Considering how forcefully he attacks the bare-bones, fiddle-and-drum duet Snowflake Reel/Done Gone/Cheyenne and how atmospherically he paints The Confusion before Dreams, however, these, too, are refreshingly innovative. Elsewhere, the old standby Cumberland Gap is dismembered and reassembled in riveting fashion as Gaptooth, while the electric guitar and funky undercurrents of Sugarfoot Rag/Freedom Jazz Dance succeed in intertwining the influences of Phish and The Band. Backed by an equally adventurous, all-star cast that includes Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Viktor Krauss, Darrell Scott, and Béla Fleck, Driessen creates a kaleidoscopic world that allows 3D to live up to its name, even without the use of psychedelic substances.
3D is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box