Feb 8, 2017

RhoDeo 1706 Aetix


Today's artists, are discordant, elusive, and utterly hypnotic, they conjured a dark, trance-like spell that contrasted sharply with the prevailing British pop music trends of their time. Equal parts the Stooges, Can, and Hawkwind, they resurrected the concept of space rock for a new era, creating droning soundscapes of bleak beauty and harsh dissonance.........N'Joy

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Loop were formed in 1986 by Robert Hampson (vocals, guitar), with his then-girlfriend Becky Stewart on drums. Bex was later replaced by John Wills (The Servants) and Glen Ray, with James Endeacott on guitar. Initially releasing records on Jeff Barrett's Head label, their first release was 1987's '16 Dreams', with debut album Heaven's End following later that year. The band was then signed up by Chapter 22 Records.

The World in Your Eyes, a collection of singles and B-sides, appeared in 1987. After signing to the Chapter 22 label, Loop resurfaced in 1988 with the 12" Collision. In November of that same year, Loop also released their second full-length, the excellent Fade Out. Over a year passed before the band returned to action with the Arc-Lite single, now sporting not only another new label, Situation 2, but also a second guitarist, Scott Dawson. After issuing their third and finest studio LP, 1990's A Gilded Eternity, Loop disbanded. A series of posthumous releases, among them the live Dual and the BBC sessions collection Wolf Flow, soon followed. In the wake of the band's demise, its four members split into two camps -- while MacKay and Wills reunited in the Hair & Skin Trading Company, Hampson and Dawson went on to form the highly experimental Main.

The band split in 1991, with Hampson briefly joining Godflesh before forming Main with Dowson. Hampson's Main project was discontinued in 2006 and while he now releases under his own name in 2010 he announced the return of Main, albeit as a collaborative project with other sound artists. Wills and Mackay went on to form The Hair and Skin Trading Company, which last released in 1995. Wills now performs and records as Pumajaw.

Loop recorded three Peel sessions for John Peel (11 August 1987, 14 June 1988 and 21 January 1990). A collection of these sessions entitled Wolf Flow was released in 1992. Following the split Loop's official studio albums were re-released on their Reactor label. Their sound was influenced by Krautrock and No Wave influences and relied heavily on three chord riffs. Some of the records featured cover versions of Suicide, The Pop Group and Can tracks. The band played at the Reading Festival in 1989.

Loop reformed for 2013 and 2014 activities, as presented by a statement from Robert Hampson. The line-up included the original Gilded Eternity era members Robert Hampson, John Wills, Neil Mackay and Scott Dowson. In November 2013, the band played their first comeback show and also co-curated the final holiday camp edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands, England. Wills, wishing to focus on his own musical projects, left the band and was replaced by Wayne Maskell. Loop then played in April 2014 as headliners of the Roadburn Festival, followed by more than 20 dates in the USA, headlining the opening night of Milwaukee Psych Fest 2014 at Cactus Club on 24 April. They concluded this comeback tour with the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona in May 2014.

A post on the official Loop Facebook page from 10 June 2014, indicated the group was disbanding due to unspecified issues. The following day a new post from Hampson stated two new Loop songs had been written and that instead of disbanding, the group would continue with a new line-up. In November 2014 a new line-up emerged; still led by Hampson (vocal, guitar), the band performed with Hugo Morgan (bass) and Maskell (drums) from The Heads as well as Dan Boyd (guitar). They played at the Garage (London) and in the Netherlands, they also announced they would be playing ATP Iceland 2015

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Had Loop been present at Woodstock, they probably would have hatched a plan to obtain all the brown acid that Wavy Gravy warned spectators not to take. After hearing his declaration that "The brown acid's a bummer, man!," Robert Hampson and his droogs would have likely gone incognito as security staff, offering to rid the concert goers of the bad trips waiting to be had. They would have procedeed to ingest what they could and record something like Heaven's End, a filler-free release of warped senses and personal demons, inner-space blues, and psychotic dementia. It sounds like a vast toxic wasteland where all negativity is dumped by the soul. Simple, tense riffs repeat until a state of hypnosis and emotional emptiness remain. "Heaven's End" itself sounds like the soundtrack to a missing hallucination scene from Easy Rider; shifting and shuffling percussion and twisted vapor trails of guitar mutate into utter mush. Samples from 2001 pop up throughout the record, if the music itself wasn't enough to carry a prevailing sense of paranoia and claustrophobia. But all the late-'60s references become stifling in conveying what Loop did. Along the way, Loop gutted all the spiritual mysticism from Can, taking their repetition. They also borrow Suicide's minimal charge and early PiL's wretched anguish, making something rather unique from their influences. Though Heaven's End demonstrates a crystal clear indebtedness to Detroit's high-energy mayhem of the late ‘60s, it's actually the gunmetal gray sound of the Stooges and MC5 filtered through decades of urban decay.

Loop - Heaven's End (flac  295mb)

01 Soundhead 4:57
02 Straight To Your Heart 6:16
03 Forever 4:48
04 Heaven's End 4:06
05 Too Real To Feel 5:13
06 Fix To Fall 4:32
07 Head On 2:43
08 Carry Me 4:57
09 Rocket USA (Mix 3) 5:18

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Distinguishing one Loop album from another is nearly as tricky as doing the same for Ramones or AC/DC. Since Loop more or less stuck to one thing, remaining consistently great and gradually developing an experimentalist streak throughout their brief lifespan, the actual sound of each release is what separates one from the next. Aside from increasing control over their instruments, there isn't a great deal of actual progress made, but this is no fault. Wrecking ball riffs that remain firmly balanced between lunkheaded and complex always play a major role; simple but effective rhythms propel; Robert Hampson's vocals generally play the role of additional instrument, doing little more than expressing the subject given in the titles. Like the remainder of their discography, the song titles themselves are ideally descriptive. "This Is Where You End" and "Torched" have some of Hampson's meanest vocals, contrasting with the wasted (or, well, faded) effect provided on "Fade Out." Repetitive stutter shuffles play throughout "Vision Stain." "Pulse" and "Black Sun" offer massive howling. The guitar leads sound ear-piercingly tinny and high in the mix on occasion, perhaps to distinguish further from the droning riffs. The Rough Trade CD adds five bonuses, including covers of the Pop Group and Can. Their version of the Pop Group's "Thief of Fire" slows the mania of the original down to a near-lumpen pace, still expressing all of Mark Stewart's exasperated vocals. Can's "Mother Sky" is more true to the original, clocking in at 11 minutes and containing the same trebly guitar buzz and tumble drums that the original thrives on.

Loop - Fade Out (flac 425mb)

01 Black Sun 5:09
02 This Is Where You End 4:42
03 Fever Knife 5:09
04 Torched 4:37
05 Fade Out 6:46
06 Pulse 4:44
07 Vision Stain 4:26
08 Got To Get It Over 5:23
09 Collision 4:59
10 Crawling Heart 4:06
11 Thief Of Fire / Thief (Motherfucker) 9:14
12 Mother Sky 10:45

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There's a pervading din throughout Loop's last record, an unsettling feeling created by their guitars that slightly disturbs the senses in the way that Sonic Youth's guitars endlessly stir on EVOL and Sister. One hates to trot out the post-apocalyptic adjective, but if there are any ten songs that deserve that label, it's the batch strung together here. Deadened toms rattle throughout "Afterglow," while densely lurching guitars prod and peel back alternately between the left and right channels. "The Nail Will Burn" features yet another punishing Loop riff, giving the image of the heads of three longhairs bobbing up and down in unison on-stage. "Breathe into Me" and a remix of "Arc-Lite" also offer caveman subtlety and deeply penetrating repetition. But rather than simply drive a point home again and again hypnotically, there's a little more imagination running through the arrangements, making the record a little less direct than the ones predating it. Also, there's some great experimentation at hand, providing a taster for what Robert Hampson would soon be doing with Main. "Shot with a Diamond" (taking its name from a line in Apocalypse Now) sounds like a pendulum counting down to death. "Blood" features unidentified noises that cycle throughout, offering none of the riffs that typify the bulk of the band's material. Taken as a whole, it's Hawkwind minus the goofiness and Spacemen 3 minus the unnecessary tangents. Hampson broke the band up after this one, and it's easy to see why. He'd taken loud guitars as far as he could, and that experimentalist streak inside of him was obviously dying to be purged. Psychotic hypnotists they were.

Loop - A Gilded Eternity (flac 366mb)

01 Vapour 6:08
02 Afterglow 5:13
03 The Nail Will Burn 4:52
04 Blood 5:35
05 Breathe Into Me 4:37
06 From Centre To Wave 6:04
07 Be Here Now 9:30
A Gilded Eternity Session
08 Shot With A Diamond 5:19
09 The Nail Will Burn (Burn Out) 4:51
10 Arc-Lite 4:08

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A compilation of the three Peel Sessions Loop recorded between 1987 and 1990, Wolf Flow presents a fine documentation or de facto "best of" for the Croydon band. As with most BBC recordings, the results are premium grade. Some might actually favor these versions over their originals, given that Robert Hampson's vocals are less mired in production techniques. From the first session, "Soundhead" and a ten-minute "Straight to Your Heart" offer a little more clarity than their Heaven's End counterparts. Drums are given further presence, especially on the former. A seering version of "Rocket USA" (which also appears on The World in Your Eyes) could possibly be the definitive Suicide cover. The second session, predating the Fade Out sessions, features previews of "Pulse" and "This Is Where You End" that were changed little before entering the recording studio. The third session features a couple selections from the band's third and final record, A Gilded Eternity, as well as a B-side from the Arc-Lite single. The disorienting throb on "From Centre to Wave" is slightly sped up, adding further doom to the already creepy atmosphere. "Afterglow" kicks the distortion up a notch over the original and adds further force to the drums. "Sunburst," which probably holds the only non-indicative song title of Loop's career, drags slightly at nine minutes. Since Loop's three proper records and singles compilations vary little in quality, it's hard to recommend a starting point. But Wolf Flow shouldn't be turned down if given the chance to purchase.

Loop - Wolf Flow (flac  342mb)

01 Soundhead 3:39
02 Straight To Your Heart 9:59
03 Rocket USA 5:06
04 Pulse 4:35
05 This Is Where You End 4:00
06 Collision 5:27
07 From Centre To Wave 7:48
08 Afterglow 5:28
09 Sunburst 9:19

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apf said...

Thank you, Rho!

InertiafromOz said...

Thanks for the mate. Saw Loop loads of times back in the day. One of my favourites!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these. The relentless noisy barrage of vibrating fuzz that makes up Heaven's End is particularly enjoyable. There's a good sounding reunion gig here if anyone needs it (FLAC of course):


Anonymous said...

Great post! Big fan of this group. Also liked Main a lot after they broke up. I had all these albums on cassette at one time and played them all to death in the car so hearing nice FLAC versions will be a major sonic upgrade for me. Thanks a bunch.


Anonymous said...

Could you please re-up Loop. Thank you very much rho.