ASKO is a teaching lodge that you enter into with hesitation and humility. It is an immersive experience in which, if you
bring an open heart and an open mind, you will learn to listen in a different register and come out of the lodge with a different
perspective than you entered. ASKO is a coming together –a meeting of emotional and intellectual knowledge, a meeting of the heartbeat and the sound of thought travelling through space. It is a place that teaches us how to listen to the energies and forces that continually create nêhiyawak worlds in spite of and despite the noise of colonialism.

It is a storied meeting place of the drum and the rattle.

Marek Tyler is nêhiyaw and Scottish/Irish, and while his name is on the project, ASKO is a gathering place of many collaborators and advisors. In some ways, Tyler is an oskâpêwis, listening deeply to the creative forces of his relatives. He follows the guidance of his câpân (great-great-grandfather), his mom, artist, educator and Knowledge Keeper, Linda Young of Onion Lake Cree Nation, his uncle Dale Awasis and advisor Diana Steinhauer. ASKO’s community doesn’t end here, though. ASKO includes the kinetics of pow-wow dancers following the heartbeat of the big drum and embraces the choreography of prairie chickens telling the stories of the grasslands. It is the voice of the wind and the songs of the bright blue sky.

Taking this all inside, Tyler responds with ASKO, a creative offering in the form of a soundscape echoing nêhiyaw life and ways of living. ASKO foregrounds these energies, inviting the listener into a rich gathering of the nêhiyaw creative practice across time and space, generations, and forms of life.

Tyler is best known as a touring musician from Treaty 6 (SK/AB – Canada), the drummer from the Polaris short-listed and Juno nominated indy band, nêhiyawak. Their debut release, nipiy (Arts and Crafts, 2018), is a thoughtful meditation on water. In some ways, ASKO is a deepening of nipiy. One of Tyler’s advisors, Dale Awasis, explains that ASKO derives from the nêhiyaw foundational principle’ askôtowin,’ which reflects the following action: we are taught to lead by following and weaving our existence into the web of creation we are a part of.

This is different from how drummers usually work in rock bands. And herein lies Tyler’s transformation from drummer to beat worker. By following the movements, sounds and rhythm of the nêhiyaw lives of his kin Tyler engages in wayfinding, inspiring and compelling us to make, feel and dream beyond our present moment.

ASKO is meant to move the listener emotionally, spiritually and physically. It is meant to cross cultures and travel. The album is electronic-forward and the lead singer is percussion. You can hear the sounds of waves, wind and wings in these tracks alongside repurposed sounds like the bell of a residential school. The album doesn’t feel heavy though, it was born out of the kinetics of dance and it will make the listener want to move.

Tyler presents us with the sonics of a continuous rebirth, the poetics of a continual unfolding and enfolding.

The result is breath.
The result is simply a gift. Welcome/tawâw

Written by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson