Friday, August 27, 2010

Ondrej Smeykal at The Reef

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Ondrej Smeykal onstage at The Reef.
  • Josh Gross
  • Ondrej Smeykal onstage at The Reef.
Just behind "everybody should just calm down and listen to Glenn Beck," on the list of things I thought I'd never say is "I saw an amazing didgeridoo player."

But that's because it had never occurred to me that anyone could play like Ondrej Smeykal did at The Reef on Aug. 26.

The droning buzz that had bored me so many times at backyard barbecues was nowhere to be found. Instead Smeykal beat-boxed through the instrument, creating a rich range of rhythms and textures ranging from ragged rumbling bass lines to percussive high-end pops and chirps and breathy melodies.

The result was dance music. Kicks and snares. Break-beats and riffs. Melodic lines and samples. Even vocoders and talk-boxes. Were I hearing his album rather than seeing a performance, I probably would have mistaken him for a DJ as his music sounded more like it came from an 808 than it did a hollowed out stick.

Even with him seated cross-legged on the stage, eyes closed as he played like he was in a deep trance, it was hard to believe there wasn't a sampler hidden somewhere.

But perhaps the best part was that though the digeridoo is an aboriginal Australian instrument, Smeykal is Czech, making his music all the more pleasantly unlikely.

Though it's not locked down yet, Smeykal is hoping to do another United States tour in April, after a big world music festival in New Orleans. And whatever preconceived notions I may have had about the instrument, if he comes back, I'll be right there in the front. That said, there will never be a time when we should all calm down and listen to Glenn Beck.

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