Extra Life – Secular Works Vol.2 (Last Things) – The return album, an unexpected return from Extra Life, back there in the Summer, no fanfare, no warning, we did celebrate the news at the time, we never did get around to properly reviewing the new album back there and now here we are in the depths of Winter and considering those end of year lists and looking forward to live dates over here in early 2023, we couldn’t really let the year end without properly celebrating the return of one of the very best bands this century has thrown up. A sequel to the debut album, Secular Works Vol.2 comes some fourteen years after the original Secular Works album that came out back in 2008. It had been some ten years since the much admired gloriously left-field band were last properly active and releasing material. They were of course championed back there via our fractured pages as well as our cracking airwaves, goes without saying that we’re rather chuffed to have them back releasing new material and touring.
Extra Life are a most beautiful American experimental band. From Brooklyn, New York, a band known for their glowing use of unusual rhythms and time signatures, and for Charlie Looker’s (formerly of Zs and Dirty Projectors) deliciously distinctive instinctive singing style, his glowing nods towards medieval and Renaissance music that never ever sounds anything other than thoroughly modern and forward looking. If you know Extra Life then I’m sure you’ve already checked out this year’s album and I’m sure you were as delighted as we were to find the band sounding as wonderfully radiant as ever, if on the other hand you’ve never heard (or heard of) Extra Life then you really do need to treat yourself to their rich feast of delights, their aforementioned properly progressive medieval chamber styling, their warm rich Renaissance paintings, their quietly restrained sense of drama, their glowing colour, their rich tapestries, their drawing of breath, their powerful restraint.
The excellent news is that the band have a European tour lined up for January 2023 including a healthy number of UK dates – “On this tour, the line-up will include Gil Chevigné on drums, and Kayo Dot’s Toby Driver on bass, as on the new record, but instead of Caley Monahon-Ward on violin/viola, it’s going to be Timba Harris. Timba is an absolute ripper, who has played with Secret Chiefs 3 and many other experimental luminaries. We’re very excited to play with him”. We can certainly vouch for Timba after his performances over here with Toby Driver earlier in the year, their gig together at Cafe Oto was a musical highlight of 2022, Timba was a lot more than just Toby’s sidekick on the the tour.
Anyway, you can find and order the album on Bandcamp, you can listen to whole thing on YouTube or Spotify, and we’re told they’ll have vinyl and such with them on the January tour. Truth is we’ve been enjoying the new album way too much over the last six months to burden ourselves with having to review it, with having to think about it, dance around those immense towers of architecture, the quiet bits of string, the words, the diagonal power of it all, the fanfares (and yes the bits so good they’d allow us to mention the more grandeurs bits of later Cardiacs. How To Die is so full of desire, the whole album is, we should really take the time to review it properly, they are not the same as before, but then again they very much are, this is an album that drips with passion, that’s rich in colour, that really does get inside you, from the first marble-pure moves of album opener What is Carved to the last breaths some fifty-three glorious minutes and seven songs later, it really is breathtaking, works so real… I mean, to just release an album this good with no fanfare! Brilliant (sw)