Otherlands: A Global Music Exploration is a travelogue of on-location recordings, short films and essays that documents the collaborations of American fiddler and educator Casey Driessen in Spain, Ireland, Scotland, India, Japan and Finland.
Produced, performed, recorded and filmed by Driessen, the 25-episode video series is paired with Otherlands:ONE (April 23, Red Shoe Records), a 13-song recording of collaborations and stories from each encounter.
The plan for Otherlands was deceptively simple: Find masters of regional music, and then listen, learn and play. Casey found the musicians were just as open and curious. “The collaborations were challenging and inspiring—beautiful, unexpected ideas happen when people of diverse backgrounds come together. And like me, they were willing to open themselves to what a chance meeting might bring.”
Driessen is sharing two songs from Otherlands:ONE:
“Aye Nagari,” a drone piece in the mystical Baul tradition, was recorded January, 2020 in Paruldanga, a village outside of Shantiniketan, at the home of musicians Rina and Dibakar Das Baul, a revered Baul family. This is lyrical prayer music that aims to reach a higher level of being, or “moner manoush” (a common Baul greeting is “moner manush, manush moner,“ or “God is man, man is God”). The one-stringed ektara creates the drone and the dotara adds microtones (the tones between Western half-steps). Learn more about the Das Baul family here. Listen to the song here, and watch the short film of Otherlands: Baul Village Jam Session.
“Kouon frouva” was recorded April 10, 2020 with fiddler Esko Järvela in the small town of Kaustinen. After two weeks in isolation, the duo kept a distance while they recorded at Pelimannitalo, a large, empty community music center. A portrait of Esko’s fiddle-playing grandfather hung on the wall as they played traditional Finnish polskas. “The 3/4 landscapes are really, really interesting,” says Driessen. “There are pushing and pulling and changing harmonies in places I don’t expect.” Listen to the song here, and watch the short film of Otherlands: Finnish Cabin and Fiddle House.
“Music is such a passport,” says Driessen. “Even before anything is said, there’s a common ground—we’re musicians.”