Ondrej Smeykal: Didj from Another Dimension

I am writing about the best didgeridoo player you have never heard of. On his second cd “Didgeridoo Solo II” the music drifts in like an archaic wave of consciousness, from a time before an egoic sense of self divided us from all that is, lulling us into a womb-like, but false, sense of security. I remember his tricking me like this at his show as well, waiting for my consciousness to drift back to the Dreamtime, before abruptly transporting me back to the 21st century with music shifting back and forth between duple and triple meter, but relaxed and natural as if were an ‘of course’ kind of an event. I know now that this was no trick, just infinite compassion on his part – he knew that if the cap were too soon blown off of my consciousness, that the rest of the show would be a wash.Smeykal plays with the sonic dimensions of consciousness: small bits of melody are created which take up residence in the mind’s ear even after they are no longer present in the sound structure itself. Close your eyes and you can imagine that something of a more modern ilk is occurring on the stage: house, drum and bass, Reich, Stockhausen… It seems impossible that this music, this soundscape is being created real-time on an instrument whose roots trace back over 10,000 years.

Impossible polyrhythms and molodies emerge from a primal drone. Smeykal mics his nose, so the breath can be used as another sound source – percussive and syncopated. Barks, growls, hoots – ancient didgeridoo language – are layered within complex rhythmic structures and laid skillfully within the overlying bed of sound whose relationship only multiple listenings can reveal.

I spoke with Ondrej after his last show here in the Bay Area. (I actually wanted him to sign his beautifully packaged, handmade [by Smeykal himself], embossed, woodcut adorned, cd’s for me.) He is a humble, approachable, young man, endearing Czech accent, very sincere and appreciative. In the short time I had, I asked him about one of the pieces he played – one with long phrases in 7/4 and smaller phrases embedded within it, also in 7. (A mind-boggling feat in any musical medium, but on a didg, unbelievable.) His answer was simple. “It is simply breath,” he said. “Every structure that emerges is based within natural cycles of breathing.”

Smeykal embodies what I would see as a truly integral approach to music: complex layers of modernity which are transparent to an art form still in touch with the Dreamtime. Complex music theory and magical trance walk side by side, merging with one another, respectful of one another, and sharing each others’ strengths, creating a music which transcends genre, place, even time. Seeing Smeykal is an opportunity which should not be missed. Alan Tower, a local didg master (http://alantower.net/), describes him as “a didg player from another planet”. I would whole-heartedly agree and add that this music points to a mutation of consciousness which is the collective destiny – Integrality: a consciousness transparent to the Archaic, the Mythic, the Magical, and the Rational. Each held with equal weight in a sphere of timelessness. See him, listen to him, and be treated to the flavors of what is to come. (www.smeykal.com)