sat 21/04/2018

Loop, The Garage, London | reviews, news & interviews

Loop, The Garage, London

Loop, The Garage, London

Drone-rock pioneers find new lease of life 22 years after folding

Robert Hampson, laying the demons to rest

You know that thing? That thing that bands of a certain age do? You know… the thing where they get all misty-eyed about past glories and decide to get the band together for one last spin of the big hits? Well, the continuing story of Loop is about as far removed from that as it’s possible to be.

When, in 2013, founding member Robert Hampson announced that Loop were reforming after 22 years, it felt like an attempt to put demons to rest, for the pioneering drone rock outfit to end things properly after their sudden implosion in 1991. Indeed, after their curation of the last ever Camber Sands ATP festival and ensuing live dates, a statement heralding the end of Loop seemed to signal exactly that. However, something had sparked – there was a scintilla of something different, but with familiar form – and a new statement, issued almost immediately, indicated that Loop were to continue, albeit with a new line-up.

Which rather leads us here – to Loop’s last UK gig of the year, although things soon feel far more final than that…

They are forging ahead with new songs – fluid, molten and vital

“You won’t hear these old songs again,” says Robert, to a collective gasp, that would be audible were it not for the crashing chords of opening track "The Nail Will Burn", still ricocheting around the audience’s collective head. It’s an incendiary start that builds the tension on which Loop’s music seems to feed. So, this was to be a goodbye of sorts – to songs that many here had waited a quarter of a century to hear live.

And live is where Loop really make sense. In the late 1980s, they seemed gloriously out of time – and step – with their peers. This is something that has served them well as their raw sound has not dated and their edges remain burred. Seeing them now, as they launch into songs spanning their three studio albums, it’s obvious how far ahead of the game they were – as is the distance the new breed of kosmische-inflected bands still have to go before they catch up. "Pulse" and "Straight to Your Heart" are as physically affecting as their names suggest, volume and dynamics wrapping themselves around minds and bodies alike, but it’s with the blistering, mid-set pairing of "Collision" and "Arc-Lite" that two things become clear. One is that Robert Hampson is one of the most underrated guitarists of his generation; the second is the extent to which Loop’s drone rock is accompanied by a swinging roll, a groove that is all their own.

It’s not all about saying goodbye to old friends though. New song "Precession" fits in perfectly without missing a beat (despite a slightly stuttering ending) and provides a good indicator that 2015’s shows will be the start of something exciting, new and frighteningly good. As the band close, for the last time, with the beautifully bass-led "Burning World", it’s clear that despite their fondness for repetition, there’s no danger of Loop retreading old ground. They are forging ahead with new songs – fluid, molten and vital.

Seeing them now, it’s obvious how far ahead of the game they were

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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