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Pop / Rock 08/06/2018

Charlie Looker's 'Simple Answers' Out June 15, 2018

Charlie Looker's 'Simple Answers' Out June 15, 2018
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) After a decade of accolades for his work leading underground bands spanning the experimental, indie and metal scenes, Native New York composer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Charlie Looker arrives with a highly experimental concept album - his most ambitious project to date and the first record under his own name.

Featuring a 17-piece chamber orchestra and four years in the making, 'Simple Answers' materialized as a piece of crossover art music as complex and severe as both the city and the times, in which it was created. Fans of Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, ANOHNI, Arthur Russell, Zola Jesus and Hildegard von Bingen will resonate with this radical form of dark orchestral pop. As a text, the album will appeal to those eager to confront today's fascist psychic currents in a nuanced way, lest those currents consume the world with the simple answer of their flames.

Looker was a founding member of the experimental collective ZS, establishing his roots in the early 90s Brooklyn DIY scene. In 2007 he formed his own band Extra Life which built a devout international following before disbanding in 2012. Since then, his main performing vehicle has been metal / electronic project Psalm Zero (Profound Lore Records), as well as his chamber works.

Looker's diverse credits as a side man and/or producer include Dirty Projectors, Tyondai Braxton, Amanda Palmer, Zeal & Ardor, Mick Barr, and Jherek Bischoff. Looker has received commissions and residencies from the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Yarn / Wire, Ostrava New Music Days Festival (Czech), SEM Ensemble, Experiments in Opera (NY) and The Stone (NY).

The wildly hybrid sound of 'Simple Answers' is based on an orchestral core of strings, winds, brass and piano, blended with an electronic palette of 808 drum machines and synths with Looker's tenor voice front and center. The record forms a unique bridge between disparate sonic realms. The drones and dissonance of abstract modern classical composition, dramatic post-punk vocal hooks, lush 19th Century romanticism, Medieval choral beauty, horror film score cacophony, and even some rhythms and textures from trap rap and R&B, all come together in cinematic epics, many of which stretch toward the 10-minute mark.

Special guest sopranos, Daisy Press and Megan Schubert join Looker in harmony on several pieces. Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Wet Ink Ensemble, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra comprise the wind and brass sections, while strings are rendered by the acclaimed Mivos Quartet. Rising virtuoso pianist and composer, Kelly Moran, provides piano and keyboards throughout.

Lyrically, the conceptual foundation of the song cycle is an equally gnarled intersection. Using as a departure point the works of two very strange bedfellows, French feminist psychoanalyst / philosopher Julia Kristeva and legendary American comedian Patrice O'Neal, Looker uses tropes from both thinkers' oeuvres to understand the psychology behind today's global rising tide of fascist ideology. Inherently political, yet primarily psychological and personal, the eight songs spiral further outward, through themes of power, masculinity, Jewish self-hatred, addiction, brainwashing and the occult, often within a single line.
Looker has also revealed a special hometown album release show on June 14th at National Sawdust. It will be a rare performance with the full 17-piece chamber orchestra from the album,featuring members of Mivos Quartet and ICE, sopranos Daisy Press and Megan Schubert. The evening will also include appearances by featured guest vocalists Doug Moore (of Pyrrhon) and Zohra Atash (of Azar Swan), performing surprise cover songs with Looker's arrangements.

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