Charlie Schmidt
Xanthe Terra
SAAH031 CD Only
Released: June 7, 2005
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Track Listing: Salem Journeys - Samba de Xanthe Terra - Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain - Hyattsville Anti-Inertia Dance - Athabasca Valles Blues - Firebird - Kanaranzi Waltz - Acidalia Planitia - Chillum Heights Blues - For Olivia - Slavic Mountain - Doggie Blues - Hymn

Charlie Schmidt was a contemporary of his friend and mentor, the late John Fahey, and his own personal universe collided with the master of the acoustic steel string in a very interesting and bemusing manner. Schmidt befriended Fahey as a young man, after meeting him backstage at a performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981. Ever the iconoclast, Fahey vigorously encouraged Schmidt to follow his own musical path and discover his own voice. It came to pass, in the early 1990's, that Fahey was requested to re-record his second album Vol. II: Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes for re-release. As a ruse, Fahey had Schmidt record all of the songs ostensibly as Fahey himself! In order to be compensated, four new "bonus" tracks were included, which happened to be Charlie Schmidt originals. The project was shelved; fast-forward to 2004, three years after Fahey's death, and the release of The Best of Fahey Vol. II on Fantasy. Included were three titles billed as previously unreleased, newly uncovered Fahey gems. Lo and behold these are actually Schmidt's performances, and one of the pieces is a Schmidt composition that Fahey admired ("Hyattsville Anti-Inertia Dance"). Bewildering to be sure, but the point is clear: Charlie Schmidt is a fantastic talent of the steel string guitar, and the time is nigh for the world to hear and experience this very well-kept secret.

Long in the making, Charlie Schmidt's debut Xanthe Terra is finally seeing the light of day, and it is a stunner; melancholic musings and gorgeous melodies are offered like midnight prayers through ringing and singing wood and steel. Technique for Schmidt is always at the service of feeling, and the pieces on Xanthe Terra are awash in a raw depth of emotion, shuddering to the very core of the music. Like the scorched desert-like landscape of Mars referenced in the album title, images of vast empty expanses and regions sucked dry of humanity weep from Schmidt's guitar. From the delicate, somber melodies of opener "Salem Journeys", past a particularly rollicking version of Fahey's "Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain" and onwards, closing with the introspective subtlety of "Hymn", American folk styles brush up with classical guitar and "deltadelica" to form compositionally rich and radiant acoustic dramaturgy.

Following firmly in the American Primitive footsteps of John Fahey,
Peter Lang, and Robbie Basho, Xanthe Terra is glorious guitar soli, an important new work to the new acoustic movement.

Hear for yourself! download a free MP3 of "Acidalia Planitia"
Charlie Schmidt wrote and performed the "previously unreleased" tunes associated to John Fahey on the Best of John Fahey Vol. II (curated by Henry Kaiser)
Charlie Schmidt on Myspace
Blurbs about Schmidt performing at Fahey tribute, with Peter Lang, Henry Kaiser and more, can be found here
Chicago Reader (feature), The Wire, All Music Guide, Splendid Ezine, Terrascope Online, All About Jazz, Park Ridge Herald-Advocate
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