Sunday, December 2, 2012

This Is Where You End: A Look At Some Awesome Loop Reissues

I am not going to tell the story again about how I met Cobain at that legendary Nirvana/Loop show in 1990. No, I only bring up that concert to remind you how downright overwhelming the Loop live show was.

I've never come as close to fainting at a concert as I did that night. I stood with some friends -- it seems like everyone with good taste was at that show; the 9:30 Club was Hipster Central that night -- and the swelling crowd, the heat, the strobe lights, and the RIFFS just seemed unrelenting. I swayed in the middle of that mass of people and could feel "Afterglow" playing in my bones.

And that was the majesty of Loop. For all the love I had for Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine, Loop had the sheer power.

Which brings us to the reissues.

One of the little miracles of iTunes is that suddenly you find out what is in print again.

Case in point: the Loop albums. When I loaded up my computers and liquidated my CDs in 2006, I think I only had 1 Loop disc in my collection.

But, a quick recent search of iTunes revealed that the Loop albums are back in print.

So let's start with...

1987's Heaven's End is the first Loop record I ever heard. The Suicide cover ("Rocket USA") and the sample of Hal probably appealed to me the most at first. The record was unlike anything I had heard before. I don't recall that I ever saw the word shoegaze in a Brit music mag in 1988 so I couldn't quite describe what genre this was.

As I had The Perfect Prescription from Spacemen 3 on import cassette in late 1987, I think I probably lumped those two bands together but where the 3 were stuck in a sort of re-imagining of the acid years, Loop were referencing the Sixties to destroy them. It was the sound of nostalgia coming unhinged and the spaceship literally hitting the heart of the sun.

This reissue adds some Peel Sessions to Heaven's End and the version of "Straight To Your Heart" here is a particularly fuzzy delight. It sounds like what Primal Scream ended up doing 14 years later

The first mix of "Soundhead" also reveals more of an obvious Sixties influence than the album version. It seems somehow sprightly.

Like most of the tracks on this record, it's still an onslaught of guitar noise and I love that about this band.

1988's Fade Out was sinister. Was it the blank cover? The titles: "Black Sun", "This Is Where You End"? I don't know but the record practically snarls -- that opening downright evil riff of "Torched" rules!

The bonus cuts here are particularly noteworthy: "Black Sun (Feedback Mix)" is almost radio-friendly and the more ominous cousin of the stuff MBV were doing in the same era.

"Collision (Peel Session)" is a wah-wah freakout, a rave-down of epic proportions and a good indicator of the live groove these guys could cook up.

By 1990, when A Gilded Eternity dropped, Loop had perfected their sound and were entering into nearly uncharted musical waters. So heavy as to be downright frightening, the band were making noise punctuated by songs. It's almost as if this record is one long song broken up into segments.

I exaggerate to make a point. The sound here is so seamless and whole as to be eerie. A perfect summation of their sound, the record is simultaneously a squally soup of feedback and guitar sounds and a clearly produced aural attack.

"Afterglow" remains the room clearer. The cut that will make you lose neighbors if you play it loud enough.

I used to crank this up as loud as I could in my car and drive through the wilds of Washington, D.C. -- usually late at night on the way home from the old 9:30 Club -- and watch the heads of the riff-raff on the streets turn my way. Travis Bickle with a boombox and some Brit rock.

Loaded with demos and Peel Session tracks, A Gilded Eternity is simultaneously the best distillation of that Loop sound and the band's weakest album (of their 3 studio records).

Still, it's a punch in the solar-plexus. It's a brutal set of tunes no matter how you slice it.

You can get the Loop reissues with extra tracks on Amazon.com here or on Amazon.co.uk here.

And you can get them on InSound.com here