Altar of Harmony
Third Man Records
Man, this is some trippy shit right here.
From the song titles – “Lex Universum” or “Mundi Luum Est” to the album art which would make you think of a heavy metal release until you notice that Schneider is playing a pedal steel on the cover, this is a revolutionary work of art.
Luke Schneider, who has performed with William Tyler, Margo Price, Caitlin Rose and more has created something almost indescribable with his first solo release. First, as the notes exclaim, “all sounds on this album were generated by a 1967 emmons “cuttail” push-pull pedal steel guitar” – although you would be hard-pressed for most of the cuts to hear anything resembling the traditional sound of a steel guitar. Instead, waves of looped passages form a bed of sound that a melody is added. Some call it “new age” music, but this ain’t what you associate with that either.
The first side sounds a bit like band-mate William Tyler’s masterpiece Modern Country album from 2016 (which Schneider played on) – long, mesmerizing avenues of sound that wash over you, cinematic at points, crashingly abrupt at others. (This record, btw, is a stoner’s headphone jam. Just sayin’).
The second side, beginning with “Mundi Tuum Est” takes a decidedly Krautrock/Kraftwerk tone, the steel guitar sounding somewhat like a Moog on a unreleased Autobahn track, with waves of sound panning back and forth inside your head.
Luke Schneider, much like Jimi Hendrix or Earl Scruggs before him has taken his instrument to places previously unheard of. You’ll never hear a pedal steel the same way again. Trippy indeed.