Where the mind goes
Nashville-based musician Luke Schneider just released his debut solo album, an unexpected ambient, new age record called Altar of Harmony. The guitarist originally played the album on pedal steel guitar, but uses digital techniques to manipulate the sound in fascinating ways, so much so that the album sounds completely synthesized, bearing little resemblance to pedal steel guitar. In fact, it bears no detectable audible resemblance to any acoustic stringed instruments at all. It is unclear how the sounds on Altar of Harmony came to be this in this incarnation, but it is clear that this album is spiritual and serene from the first note to the last.
Altar of Harmony is good celestial music for a yoga class or reiki healing session. It is very at home in the spiritual realm and easily induces meditation. The compositions throughout are gentle and flowing, and devoid of percussion or dissonance. Sustained chords carry the underlying foundations of all of the songs, and mild, subtle changes slowly unfold over the tops of the chords.
Many of the songs have a rhythmic quality like undulating waves. The most interesting, wave-like song on the album is “mundi tuum est” (which loosely translates to “your world is yours”). This song has a bit more drama and darkness than the rest of the songs, making it stand out.
Overall, Altar of Harmony is a very unusual first-release from a Nashville pedal steel guitarist and one with potential properties of healing. One wonders what inspired Schneider to write this music? Perhaps that is an intended irony of the music, however. In spirituality, serenity lies in spaces where questions go without answers. We settle in and allow our minds to go quiet as our souls come forth.