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BIO (full)

Charles A. Looker has been active in underground and experimental music circles for the past two decades as a composer, guitarist, and vocalist. Described by Time Out New York as an "art-rock visionary", his music brings together diverse influences and styles including contemporary concert music, post-punk, improvisation, pop, early music, and sound design. Born and based in New York City, he has received commissions from various ensembles, however most of his output has been with his own bands.

Looker was a founding member of the now-world-renowned experimental collective Zs, establishing his roots in the '00s Brooklyn DIY scene. He left Zs in 2007 to form his own band, Extra Life, which recorded three albums and several EPs, toured the US and Europe extensively and built a devout international following before going on hiatus in 2012. In the '10s, Looker's main performing vehicles were his industrial metal band, Psalm Zero, and Seaven Teares, his avant folk project with period Medieval instruments.

In 2018, Looker released the first record under his own name, Simple Answers, a song cycle for three singers, a 17-piece chamber orchestra, and electronics, on his own limited edition vinyl imprint Last Things Records. This concept album, dealing with fascist psychology, stand-up comedy, and addiction, was performed in its entirety by the full ensemble at National Sawdust (Brooklyn), was described by Pitchfork as "a powerful piece of classical music".

In 2020, Looker launched the Last Things YouTube channel and podcast, where he hosts interviews with various musicians, from the eccentric corners of contemporary music, art, and thought. Last Things also includes long-form educational videos on music history and theory, as well as video essays dealing with cultural criticism and philosophy.

Looker revived Extra Life 2022, released Secular Works, Vol. 2, a sequel to the debut record from 14 years prior, and then The Sacred Vowel  (2024). EU and US tours followed, including a slot at A Colossal Weekend Festival (Copenhagen). The new line-up is Toby Driver (Kayo Dot), Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3), and David Bodie (Time of Orchids).

Looker’s credits as a collaborator, sideman and/or featured guest include work with William Parker, Dirty Projectors, Xiu Xiu, Tyondai Braxton, Tim Berne, Darius Jones, Glenn Branca, and the Wet Ink Ensemble. As an arranger, producer, and remixer, Looker has worked with Amanda Palmer, Mivos Quartet, M Lamar, and Kate Miller-Heidke.

As a composer in a concert music context, Looker has received fellowships and commissions from the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Yarn/Wire, the Ostrava New Music Days festival, and Experiments in Opera. In 2015, Looker was an artist-in-residence at The Stone (New York City), and collaborated with Mivos Quartet and M Lamar at the Ecstatic Music Festival (New York City). In 2011 he was voted one of the top 100 American composers under 40 by WNYC. Looker’s music has been performed at festivals around the world including Primavera Sound (Spain), Bad Bonn (Switzlerland), Villette Sonique (France), Moers Jazz (Germany) and Sound Forest (Latvia) and is documented on labels including Northern Spy, Profound Lore, LOAF, ThreeOneG, Troubleman Unlimited, and Last Things.

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photo by Jessica Hallock

BIO (short)

Charles A. Looker has been active in underground and experimental music circles for the past two decades as a composer, guitarist, and vocalist. His music brings together contemporary concert music, post-punk, improvisation, pop, early music, and sound design. His many projects include the bands Extra Life, Psalm Zero, and Seaven Teares, and his orchestral record, Simple Answers. Looker’s credits as a collaborator, sideman, and/or producer include Xiu Xiu, John Zorn, Lingua Ignota, Mivos Quartet, Darius Jones, Dirty Projectors, the Wet Ink Ensemble, Amanda Palmer, and William Parker. He also hosts the Last Things podcast and YouTube channel, a platform for artist interviews, music education, and cultural criticism.

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