Organ Thing of The Day? Where have we been? Did you even notice? Lost in some kind of limbo land we haven’t quite escaped from yet? Something like that, the luminous green glow of the dials on the dashboard or the lights on the street, the numerous red men at every crossing. I doubt if anyone would notice if we did just stop without warning. If I remember it right, the last time we saw Loop, or to be more accurate, heard the mighty swirl of Loop while the lights lit up the summer sky was while we were trying to get on sight with a van full of musicians and equipment at the notorious Treworgey Tree Fayre – the last great festival at the start of the 90’s – Loop were on late on the Friday evening before most of the chaos kicked in. Must have encountered them since then, surely? I has been some time though
“Loop announce first album in 32 years and share video” shouts the headline
“Style wise, it’s incredibly different, going back to thinking about guitars and guitar sounds. Obviously you have to take into consideration things like percussive elements such as drums, which I haven’t been using in my other projects; but this is the mindset that makes up LOOP.”
So says Robert Hampson, the indefatigable visionary behind inspirational sonic architects LOOP, whose eagerly anticipated fourth LP ‘Sonancy’ (Latin for “to create noise”) is the perfect document for these strange times. Dynamic, dystopian, righteously angry and unashamedly LOOP-ian, it’s an album that marks a vital re-emergence for Hampson and co.
Formed in South London in the mid-1980s, LOOP blazed a trail with their potent mix of motorik beats and heavy guitar riffs, recording a trio of brilliant albums that set the indie charts alight before imploding in 1990 after the release of album number three, ‘A Gilded Eternity’. As critics enthused at the time, LOOP were the sound of Suicide jamming with the Stooges aboard a spaceship built by Hawkwind and piloted by CAN. They were post-psychedelic, pre-shoegaze figureheads in a world of anodyne pop jangle and baggy rhythms, and even their closest contemporaries like Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine didn’t plough such a distinctive furrow as theirs.
“I’m often asked to print the lyrics but I want people to approach our records with a sense of mystery, so you don’t necessarily know what’s going on. You may call it challenging. I’m influenced by J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick to a certain degree. Lyrically, if you listen to it intently, there’s this dystopian outlook. There’s a lot of anger in there. I don’t like seeing the wanton abuse of power, which is what we’re seeing right now and I’m disgusted by it. I wouldn’t say ‘Sonancy’ is bleak though because I’m one of those people who believes there’s a chance for change. That may be naïve, but I always hope that people will come out of this coma they all seem to be in. I’ve imbued the lyrics with a little bit of hope.”
Hope is a powerful force, one perhaps needed more than ever today. Pandemic lockdowns stretched the making of ‘Sonancy’, recorded at long-term LOOP soundman Joe Garcia’s Bristol-based studio Joe’s Garage, from an expected couple of weeks to almost a year. Still, if recording was elongated, the experience was made easier by the interplay between the members of what is the most enduring line-up of LOOP to date.
“I formed LOOP, I’m the sole original member, I’ll just carry on, but the current LOOP line-up has been pretty stable for the last six or seven years. We have Wayne [Maskel, drums] and Hugo [Morgan, bass] from The Heads, who a lot of people know, a fantastic rhythm section, and Dan [Boyd] on second guitar.”
“I was very anti-guitar for a long time. You hear progressively through the Main period the guitar fading away. I just felt that it didn’t have any place in what I was sonically trying to do and I didn’t miss it at all. Now, having a guitar in my hands doesn’t bother me anymore as long as I can do something useful with it; and working with the current line-up we have, it’s very enjoyable indeed. Long may it reign.”
Today, LOOP stand as innovators in a musical world that has embraced and followed their defiantly individual sound – there are hundreds of contemporary neo-psych artists out there who arguably would not exist without LOOP’s pioneering music, music that continues to evolve and grow in the most startling of ways on ‘Sonancy’.