Release Date Digital
July 2, 2022
Release Date 2LP
1. What is Carved
2. Coming Apart
3. The Play of Tooth and Claw
4. We Are Not the Same
5. What’s Been Lost?
6. Diagonal Power
7. How to Die
ABOUT THE RELEASE
Secular Works, Vol. 2 is the reunion album from New York avant rock unit Extra Life. After a nine-year hiatus, composer and frontman Charlie Looker returns to the aesthetics of the band’s 2008 debut, Secular Works, the original statement which put them on the map. Extra Life’s classic, iconoclastic cocktail of Byzantine math rock complexity, metallic aggression, medieval vocal acrobatics, orchestral dynamics, dark synth ambience, and islands of pop accessibility, is back in full force.
Looker is backed by a new rhythm section of bassist Toby Driver (mastermind of Kayo Dot), and virtuoso Belgian drummer Gil Chevigné (of Helium Horse Fly), both of whom add personal flair and detail to all the compositions. The line-up also features original band member Caley Monahon-Ward, on violin and viola, whose imaginative string arrangements add further heights of cinematic drama. Majestic brass fanfares are delivered by special guests, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and horn player Michael Atkinson.
Lyrically, Secular Works, Vol. 2 departs somewhat from the classic Extra Life releases. Looker’s earlier introspective negotiations of sexuality, power, personal narratives, and perverse humor have given way to more expansive, open-ended, macroscopic meditations on spirituality, death, time, fate, and cosmic affirmation. The songs also simply have fewer lyrics, overall, with repetition carrying large passages of the music.
The album was recorded by in-demand New York producer Ben Greenberg, known for his work with Uniform, Bambara, and other dark, underground acts. His unique approach brings to the album a warmer, edgier, more aggressive sound than any prior Extra Life release.
Secular Works, Vol. 2 is guaranteed to deeply move fans of the original Extra Life phase, and to draw in anyone with a love of experimental, ambitious, dramatic art.
Extra Life was formed in 2007 as the solo/bandleader vehicle for New York City-based composer, guitarist, and vocalist, Charlie Looker. The band is a highly unusual synthesis of disparate elements, including dark pop, math/prog rock, metal, classical, and ancient liturgical music. Looker was a founding member of NY noise-chamber outfit ZS, and has been a prolific collaborator across the experimental music scene, with credits including Dirty Projectors, Xiu Xiu, John Zorn, Lingua Ignota, Tyondai Braxton, Amanda Palmer, and Mivos Quartet.
Extra Life’s debut full-length Secular Works was released in 2008 on Planaria Records/LOAF Recordings to critical acclaim. The band toured the U.S. and Europe, with appearances at festivals including Primavera Sound (Spain), Villette Sonique (France), Bad Bonn (Switzerland), and Moers (Germany). This was followed by the sophomore album Made Flesh (LOAF Recordings 2010), and the EP Ripped Heart (Last Things 2011), which featured a more accessible, indie-friendly sound. More international touring followed, which saw the band sharing bills with heavyweights including Sonic Youth, Ariel Pink, Deerhunter, Deerhoof, Owen Pallett, and Chelsea Wolfe.
In 2012, Extra Life’s third full-length Dream Seeds was released by Northern Spy Records, foregrounding the band’s atmospheric, darkwave side. U.S. and EU tours included spots at Impetus Festival (Switzerland) and Discorporate Festival (Germany). Looker disbanded Extra Life in 2013, to focus on his work as a classical composer, and on his industrial metal band Psalm Zero. After a nine year hiatus, Looker reunited the band in 2022, releasing Secular Works, Vol. 2 on his own label, Last Things, with plans to tour extensively.