After a 15 year recording hiatus Loop return with first of a trio of releases
Late 2013 saw Loop take to the stage in the first time in over a decade to perform and curate the last All Tomorrow’s Parties festival at Camber Sands. After this monumental show we all hoped that new material would surface. In June 2014 Loop announced that they would be disbanding. Our hopes died with that email. However the very next day Loop’s frontman Robert Hampson announced that two new songs had been written and they would carry on with a new line up.
This week finally sees the release of the first new material since 1990 in the shape of Array 1. The new line up consists of Hampson on guitar and vocals, Hugo Morgan on bass, Neil Maskell on drums and Dan Boyd on guitar. At times it feels like not much has changed, sound wise, this feels like the most immediate and exciting line up since the heady mid 1980’s releases.
Precession starts Array 1 with a heavy repetitive guitar riff, while the bass bubbles underneath and the drums counter point the dense of guitars. At times this is an impenetrable five minutes and very little is going to tell the passages apart. This however is part of its charm. There have been a lot of pretenders to the drone throne, but few have the impact and brunt of Loop. Aphelion has an Indian vibe to it, but it follows the same blueprint of Precession. This is another five minutes of opaque drone. Coma sees the band start to extend instrumental pieces, so that they resemble lurid soundscapes rather than cohesive pieces of music. Give the title however it all works. The star of the show is Radial. If Coma was a lurid soundscape, Radial is Avant-Garde by comparison. At just shy of twenty minutes it takes its time setting the scene and gently building up to its lusciously monumental peak, before a slow and subtle outro brings everything to close. This played live has the prospect to never end and get to deafening proportions.
This is everything we’ve come to expect from Hampson and co, and in a weird way the wait has been worth it. The only real downside to the release are the vocals. Unlike so many other Loop releases these feel like an afterthought, and sadly the songs would have been better as instrumentals. The real highlights are when Hampson, Morgan, Maskell and Boyd just play, and their decisive interplay creates swaths of melody and noise. This is the first of a trio of releases promised for 2015, and another appearance at ATP’s Iceland festival. If their recent dates and 2013 ATP’s performance is anything to go by, this will be another chapter to add to the almost mythic canon of Loop.