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Fade Out and Heavens End Reissues Julian Marszalek , November 18th, 2008 18:31

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Received wisdom would have you believe that the late 80s music scene was little more than the jangle of fey indie pop and dancey house grooves while anyone wishing to have their ears ripped to shreds by serious shards of noise would have to look to the other side of the Atlantic to get their jollies. Utter cock, of course, and as if to prove the point comes the timely arrival of the remasters of Loop’s first two albums.

Rewind: Along with Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine, South London noise terrorists Loop were one of the few bands that referenced the nastier end of the 60s dream. For sure, many bands name-checked the poisoned majesty of The Velvet Underground or The Stooges’ minimalist hammerings, but the best that most of the C86 crowd could manage were watered down facsimiles of the New York band’s third album. So while the lovely 'I’m Set Free' et al set the template for the anorak wearers, those seduced by the lure of black leather, fringes and winkle-pickers were left wanting when it came to worshipping the domestic bastard offspring of 'Sister Ray'.

As displayed by the coruscating blast of white light/white heat of 'Soundhead' that opened 1987 debut Heaven’s End, Loop had picked up the gauntlet laid down by the Jesus & Mary Chain’s 'Never Understand' and ran with it at full pelt. The likes of 'Straight To Your Heart' and 'Fix To Fall' eschewed the Mary Chain’s innate pop sensibility and took The Stooges’ moronic riffing to an even more simplistic degree and smothered them with layers of dense wah-wah and heavily treated guitar. In a decade where overdriven guitars hanging below the nipples were decried by the overly-sensitive as “rockist’ or, heaven forbid, “heavy metal”, Loop’s hypnomonotony was the drugged-up antidote to the diluted tweeness that pervaded the air.

Fade Out, released a year later, was heralded by the arrival of the monstrous 'Collision'. Bigger, bolder and ballsier than what had gone on before, Loop had now started introducing an increasing number of Krautrock influences. So it was that 'This Is Where You End' and 'Pulse' were propelled by harder, pile-driving rhythms that upped the band’s ante by some considerable margin while the ferocity of the guitar attacks increased accordingly.

What makes these two re-issues doubly tantalising isn’t just the re-mastering that cranks up the volume and clarity needed for the best aural experience but the additional discs that make up the albums. Featuring alternate mixes and versions, the band’s second Peel Session reveals superior versions of 'This Is Where You End', 'Collision' and 'Pulse' while the band’s rendition of Suicide’s 'Rocket USA' remains a textbook example of how to take an influence, twist it yet still have the ability to turn the listener on to the original.

Loop may have fallen off the critical radar in favour of the reformed My Bloody Valentine and the continuing adventures of Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized but as these reissues conclusively show, the Croydon space cadets were every bit their equal and their influence is still keenly felt in heirs Secret Machines and Dead Meadow. What’s more, with their masterpiece, 'A Glided Eternity', slotted in for the same re-issue treatment next year, to come, there’s every chance that Loop’s rehabilitation will soon be complete.

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Fred Zeppelin
Nov 19, 2008 11:43am

"Every bit their equal"? Steady on old chap - only up to a point ie their first albums.

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John Doran
Nov 19, 2008 12:41pm

Loop were loads better than Spacemen 3.

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jonny mugwump
Nov 19, 2008 1:24pm

The reissues show up huge swathes of unheard-of density but on top of this Hampson pushed WAY further out than any of the Spacemen spin-offs and MBV with the Main project, completely lost to both posterity and availability but you can at least read about it in the interview.

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_____ _____
Dec 14, 2008 2:36pm

Both Loop & Spacemen 3 were pretty derivitive bands though, weren't they? Hampson's post-Loop stuff certainly thrashes virtually everything Kember & Pierce got up to later on, though some of Spectrum's stuff IS fantastic...

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Simon Pitchforth
Aug 15, 2012 8:41am

Hampson afterwards boldly explored the outer sonic limits with Main (and he crops up on the amazing ambient classic "Abysmal Evenings" by Paul Schutze). These two albums were rarely far from my Walkman when I was 16 though. "Black Sun" was my fave and the cover of Can's "Mother Sky" has some updated production gnarl to it which has me heretically preferring it to the original. I believe the Spacemen 3 hated them at the time but Loop were awesome and I'm sad I never got to see them live.

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