(from 2006 Plan B Mag)
Heaven’s End/Fade Out
What a world what a world what a big world to be drowned in: Loop were always just a little bit more engulfing, hostile, darker, scarier than Spacemen 3 and other space-rock kosmonauts of the late 80s– these reissues of their first two albums remind you of just how unearthly the fuzz and scrape and wah and throb they stacked up really was in those skinny tight times. ‘Heavens End’ is outright hostile-to-reality, an instant acid-hit to the temple, the album that ‘Psychocandy’ could only play at being: by the time of ‘Fade Out’ they were finding silence and funk in their whorl of sound – stick ‘Black Sun’ on and groove on the motorik-genius of the drums, their lightness and space. The best Loop tracks aren’t here (their unbelievable covers of ‘Thief Of Fire’ & ‘Mother Sky’ can be found on the essential ‘Black Sun’ & ‘Collision EPs’ or find the mighty ‘Eternal’ singles-comp on vinyl) but see these reissues as a launchpad into the blackest of holes, the most tripped-out singularity. Main’s ‘Hydra’ EP next please, cheers.
A Gilded Eternity (Reactor)
A Gilded Eternity (Reactor)
The World In Your Eyes (Reactor)
We loved Loop ‘cos, like them, we belonged nowhere; like them, we were horrified/hated by the interminable tor(y)ture of the fag-end Eighties. What’s weird about reissues of things you loved as a nipper is being reminded of how you once used this stuff: Loop accompanied acid and mushrooms and amyl and anger in my adolescence, knocked together C-90s in the Walkman, can of gas up each arm for the stroll into town. Loud, they sealed you off, layered you against the horrors beyond the bedroom door – one of a few bands (Terminal Cheesecake, World Domination, Godflesh, MBV, Spacemen 3) to be fearless and British at the same. The fact that no recalibration is required to still love Loop tells me they’re timeless in ways my fanboy ardour couldn’t have predicted – you hear new things in these reissues that are intimately connected with the new antechambers that have opened up in your stonewall heart since then. When you hear the singles collated on The World In Your Eyes, you hear Loop’s birthpangs – potentially just another band hiding from mid-Eighties tweeness in the more visceral entanglements of Sixties noise (fuzzcandy stompers like ‘16 Dreams’, ‘Brittle Head Girl’ and ‘Spinning’ sound like one-offs from a band destined to get lost trying to repeat them), but in actuality a band always possessed of a drive to their escape, a determination to their evaporation that lifted them above the Verves and Primal Screams who’d later rip their shit to blow up bigger.
Heaven’s End fully launched Loop into the beyond, but it was the series of singles that popped off between that album and A Gilded Eternity that really burned fissures in time. Tracks like ‘Collision’ and ‘Circle Grave’ soundtrack that incredible moment where Loop took leave of their sources, but the covers here are crucial – their version of Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’ fuzzed into sludge but was fey enough to remain a uniquely English take, ‘Mother Sky’, originally a Can track, thrived on the space and sheer funkiness Loop that had honed by then and ‘Thief Of Fire’ impossibly blazed past The Pop Group’s original in a grey, earth-sized squall of delay and echo. Get The World In Your Eyes for all the above and because, unlike so much in the remastered/reissued world, it doesn’t send you scurrying to your original vinyl in search of warmth and detail. Robert Hampson and Kevin Metcalfe deserve major props for sensitively maintaining the lack and lunge that made those ol’ 45s sing so piercingly, reminding you of what a great hypnotic groove Loop could cook up beneath all that solar fire and supermassive blackness.
By A Gilded Eternity, Loop sounded pressured, harried by their growing influence and isolation: at the time, I listened to it for three months at the wrong speed and was aggravated to find out that the doom-sludge masterpiece I was lovin’ was actually a sprightly, somewhat over-professional sounding slab of drone-rock. It still pisses over much that came after, but it’s The World In Your Eyes, Fade Out and Heaven’s End that are the holy tablets you should be seeking out, monoliths that have only grown richer and more rewarding in the 21 years since. While so much of 2009’s avant-rock’n’roll proudly paralyses itself in the sodden mud of replayed revelation, Loop are still casting a sempiternal stare down at our planet as they ellipse through the starbelts and clusters, animated by love and boredom and still belonging nowhere.
Neil Kulkarni speaks to Robert Hampson
Any embarrassment involved in hearing/ remastering this ol’ stuff?
“To be honest, I hadn’t listened to Loop in the past 20 years, not only because I’m more interested in moving forward but because the way we split up – it wasn’t angry but it was painful – was something I didn’t want to revisit. I’m not really someone who bothers with the past but enough people and labels were hassling me to the point where I wanted to do it properly and completely, get the sound right, do it right before someone else did it wrong.”
Where do you think the Loop sound went?
“You can say it got watered down by others but I really think we disappeared; these records were lost in a real way, totally forgotten. I was very ambivalent about this whole reissue process but now I’m happy. I feel like we’ve done the band the justice we never quite got when we were around.”
And what have you been doing since? Any chance of some Main reissues?
“Heh – well, the Main stuff is in equal danger of disappearing and I’m looking into that. At the moment I live in Paris and I’m commissioned to compose by the GRM, the school set up by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry – I’m making acousmatic and concrete music and yes, I’m sure I never want to be in a band again. I’m better off alone!"