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.