Charlie Looker, the instrumental force behind Extra Life, is also known for his work as a member of ZS, Ocrilim and the Dirty Projectors. And while his previous projects are known for their intricacies and powerful guitar spasms Looker dwells heavily into his Wesleyan education with Secular Works, an album heavily influenced by the art of Gregorian Chant and something called “monophonic song”. “Blackmail Blues” has Looker’s operatic voice wavering over a syncopated bass-and-string combo. “I Don’t Feel That Way” has a disjointed rhythm structure and vacillating harmonies which bears a slight resemblance to work of the Dirty Projectors. “Burn” stretches out as Looker goes into a full-out chant mode with his bleak lyrics. Extra Life certainly shows the depth of Looker’s extensive musical talents, but without the adrenaline-fueled guitars it’s hard to predict how many people will be interested in an album so deeply immersed in the artist’s classical training. Secular Works may very likely alienate some of its potential fans, but Looker is probably not concerned with them anyways.
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