Charles A. Looker has been active for the past decade as a composer, vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist, working between the worlds of contemporary composition and experimental rock. Voted one of the "Top 100 Composers Under 40" by WNYC, and called an "art-rock visionary" by Time Out New York, Looker brings together diverse influences including pop, metal, industrial, early music, folk, experimental, and classical composition. Born and based in New York City, Looker has received commissions and fellowships from the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the SEM Ensemble, and Yarn/Wire; however, most of his output has been with his own bands. He has described himself as self-taught, although he holds a B.A. in music from Wesleyan University and has privately studied counterpoint with J Mark Stambaugh (Manhattan School of Music).
Looker was a founding member of experimental collective Zs, establishing his roots in the early 2000s Brooklyn DIY rock 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 disbanding in 2012. In 2010 Looker formed Seaven Teares, a mostly acoustic quartet featuring medieval instruments. He also continues to perform regularly with Period, his long-running improvisational trio with drummer Mike Pride and electronic musician Chuck Bettis. Looker’s most recent project is Psalm Zero, a duo with guitarist Andrew Hock (of black metal band Castevet). Looker’s credits as a sideman, collaborator, and guest vocalist include work with Dirty Projectors, Tyondai Braxton, Christian Wolff, Jherek Bischoff, Mick Barr, the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Sam Mickens, the Wordless Music Orchestra, the SEM Ensemble, Mary Halvorson, Dax Riggs, William Parker, Elliott Sharp, Matthew Welch, and Glenn Branca.
Looker’s music has been performed at festivals around the world including Primavera Sound (Spain), Ostrava New Music Days (Czech), Bad Bonn (Switzerland), Villette Sonique (France), Moers Jazz (Germany), and Sound Forest (Latvia). It is documented on labels including Northern Spy, Profound Lore, Planaria, LOAF, Africantape, Shatter Your Leaves, ThreeOneG and Troubleman Unlimited, as well as on his own limited edition vinyl imprint, Last Things Records.
"Scarily focused and ruthlessly complex in a post-prog sort of way, [Extra Life] also flirts with a dark, sumptuous art-pop vibe. The end product is relentless, enveloping, and frequently gorgeous." - Time Out New York
"The common thread [in Looker’s music] is always the place where the vulnerable sentiment of indie rock collides with the jagged rhythms of contemporary composition… like Antony channeling Anthony Braxton.” - Chris Weingarten, Village Voice
“Looker’s sense of arrangement and composition melds each sound into a gripping work where fear and urgency loom within each track.” - Tiny Mixtapes
"One might ask why we need art like this, art that produces dread and foreboding, art that violently pulls the audience out of themselves. In that very formulation, though, is the answer… It’s only with the feeling that [Extra Life’s album] Made Flesh evokes that we can actually get a better view of ourselves and why we think like we do." - Dusted Magazine
Extra Life live at Festival Africantape, Grrrnd Zero, Lyon FR, 4/30/2011.
0:00 – 3:36 “Discipline for Edwin”
3:37 – 8:50 “Blinded Beast” (excerpt)
Charles Looker: synthesizer, voice
Caley Monahon-Ward: electric guitar
Nicholas Podgurski: drum set
Live performance of “Meet Me”, the single from Seaven Teares’ debut album “Power Ballads” (Northern Spy Records 2013).
Recorded at Issue Project Room by the Ripple Project (Dylan Angell and Joe Morgan).
Charles Looker: voice, guitar
Amirtha Kidambi: voice
Robbie Lee: portative organ
Russell Greenberg: percussion