Composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Charlie Looker reveals latest single “Golden Flesh” today, describing it as “the most poppy song on the record by far, a shimmering halo of dopamine I cooked up.” The dark, orchestral pop song debuted over at Brooklyn Vegan today just before the release of his debut solo album, Simple Answers, this Friday.
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.
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.
– Wind and brass from members of Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Wet Ink Ensemble and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
– Strings by Mivos Quartet
– Keyboards from rising composer / pianist Kelly Moran
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 hosts a special hometown release show tomorrow, June 14th, at National Sawdust. It’ll 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 more performing surprise cover songs with Looker’s arrangements. Charlie recently sat down with Brad Cohan for National Sawdust to discuss the album’s themes, concepts and making in full. Read all about it here.