STREAM ALTAR OF HARMONY IN FULL
WATCH THE "EXSPIRIO" VIDEO
WATCH THE GRIMEY'S IN-STORE PERFORMANCE
Renowned Nashville pedal steel player Luke Schneider has released his new album Altar Of Harmony on vinyl today via Third Man Records. Schneider has also shared a new video for album highlight "exspirio" -- watch HERE. The album is now available on limited opaque orange vinyl (exclusive to independent record stores) and standard black vinyl -- purchase the black vinyl here HERE. While supplies last, all vinyl copies of Altar Of Harmony purchased from retail stores will come with a pack of Forestdale Incense, created by Schneider himself.
The music on Altar Of Harmony is situated firmly in the ambient new age realm, yet all of the sounds on the record were created with a 1967 Emmons Push/Pull pedal steel guitar. Stream the album HERE, and purchase it on cassette exclusively from Bandcamp HERE.
Schneider is an in-demand session musician, even described as "an MVP of the Nashville music scene" by the Nashville Scene. He has recently performed and recorded with Margo Price, Orville Peck, Caitlin Rose, William Tyler and many more.
Altar Of Harmony was announced with first track "Anteludium" and its accompanying video -- watch the video HERE, and listen to the audio-only version HERE. Nashville Scene said that the track "rests on a cloud of pulsing harmony, shot through with soft-edged melodies like rays of light," while Stereogum praised the album as a whole, noting that "Altar Of Harmony just might be the salve you need to calm your nerves in these trying times."
The New York Times also weighed in on the album, writing that "Altar of Harmony turns away from country and Americana, toward ambient and new-age music that luxuriates in his instrument’s edgeless tones and otherworldly sustain." Rolling Stone did the same: "On Altar of Harmony... the Ohio native gives the instrument an ambient makeover across an instrumental suite of songs that range from soothing and placid to cosmic and rapturous." Bandcamp had similar sentiments in their extensive profile of Schneider, noting that "Altar of Harmony is most often absorbing and steadying... as immersive but expansive as a day perched on a mountain’s shoulders, staring out on the flats below."
The history of new age music from south of the Mason-Dixon line is largely a secret one. But the south is where we find one of the genre's most important distributors —New Leaf, in Kentucky, some of its most accomplished synthesists — Don Robertson, Geoffrey Newhall, William Linton, amongst others, and acoustic musicians like PC Davidoff and George Tortorelli. It is the home of countless spiritual retreats, intentional communities, and other signifiers of alternative spiritual life.
But until now, there have never been any particular regional characteristics that can be assigned to southern new age music. Until now, there has never been any crossover between country and new age.
And so —all of the sounds heard on this album were made with a 1967 Emmons Push/Pull pedal steel guitar in Nashville, Tennessee.
This recording, which can justifiably be described as "new age" in the most essential sense, represents a radical new approach to the versatile and cosmic instrument of the steel guitar. The closest antecedents may be sculptural sounds of Francesco's Cosmic Beam, or Constance Demby's Sonic Steel Space Bass. But unlike these invented instruments, the pedal steel is steeped in tradition. This is something new under the sun, a total reinvention of an iconic instrument. Quite literally, there has never been anything else quite like it.
But more than a mere piece of invention —Altar Of Harmony is extraordinarily cinematic, an epic musical devotional to higher realms —booming music of the spheres. Regardless of its origins, the expression unmistakable. This is the sound of Valhalla, of heaven, planetary alignment, of total eclipse. This is the sound of an angelic army roaring into battle. This is the heavy metal thunder of the future we were promised. Music for the end of the world. At very least, music of transformation. Sunset on the old way of life, sunrise on the new.
Luke Schneider was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1980. He was named after Paul Newman's character in the film Cool Hand Luke. He cut his teeth playing with artists like Margo Price and Caitlin Rose. A popular session player, he has, at the age of 40, taken the extraordinary step of transforming himself into a solo artist, the main attraction. Third Man Records put out a new age album. Play this record to find out why.
Altar Of Harmony track list:
2. Lex Universum
5. Mundi Tuum Est
7. Invicta Affectio