Charlie Schmidt, who worked occasionally with
John Fahey, is a "primitive" guitarist
of the older generation who debuted only in 2005 with
Xanthe Terra (Strange Attractors, 2005).
A 13-part soundtrack to an imaginary walk on Mars, it works out as a parade
of warm and heartfelt vignettes, from the bluesy Salem Journeys to the
relaxed country-ish Hyattsville Anti-Inertia Dance, from the plain
Athabasca Valles Blues to the (finally) lively Firebird
(the most Leo Kottke-esque of the series), from the solemn
Kanaranzi Waltz to the sleepy Chillum Heights Blues, from
the touching, Spanish-tinged For Olivia to the folkish
As far as journeys go, this is a bit uneventful. The guitar keeps telling the
same story in the same tone. In other words, the material is a bit too static
and repetitive. Schmidt is a better guitarist than composer.
It is telling that the most charming piece on the album is
a Fahey composition, Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain.
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