If Chris Isaak were to meet up with The Cure and jump forward to 2020 they would probably take the form of Del Judas. A solo project for New York-based Charlie Schmid, he describes Del Judas as “blackened Americana”. While recognised as the drummer from hard bands Tombs and Vaura, Schmid moves away from rock and towards a melancholic grimoire in his debut album Deity.
Released in 2018, Deity is 34 minutes of sombre and insightful tracks – eight to be exact. As described by No Echo, “the material on Deity doesn’t sound like it was birthed anywhere near the chaotic streets of the Big Apple.” Guitar-driven with shimmering synths and a steady drumbeat, Schmid creates a steady and strong base on which to layer his vocals. While the instrumentation does take a fore in the tracks, Schmid’s vocals remain clear and prominent in their own way. Aristotle stated that the “whole is a sum of its parts” and I find this well-evidenced in Deity.
How should I explain this?
For me, it seems as if the drums, synths, guitar and vocals fit into separate “slots” but are combined to form a defined and comprehensive whole. For me, once again, the vocals seem to be a prominent feature and define Del Judas’ sound. Rich, deep and intense, Schmid sings effortlessly with emotion and, in tracks like ‘Touching Fire’, ‘The Desert Speaks’ and ‘Deity’, a degree of sensuality. Adopting a Leonard Cohen approach to singing, the passionate lyrics seem to be spoken instead of traditionally sung. I find this touch increases the melancholic dynamic of Deity.
The concepts behind Deity’s tracks are quite personal with an insightful look into issues of relationships and human nature, even though many are allegorical. ‘Little White Churches’ in particular is a rather poetic deconstruction of an obsession, desperation and rejection – then again, I am prone to overthinking and analysing the crap out of everything.
Despite often avoiding this type of gothic music, Deity is poetic, heartfelt and overwhelming in its entirety. You know those albums that leave you shaking both physically and psychologically – well, Charlie Schmid (or should I refer to him as Del Judas) hit the nail on the head with his debut album.