published: 23 /
Lilly of the West
First album in over thirty years from Loop combines the band’s riff-laden power and psychedelic production enhancement in classic fashion.
‘Sonancy’ is the first album from Loop since 1990’s ‘A Gilded Eternity’. In many ways they have picked up from where they left off – although only retaining Robert Hampson (vocals/guitar) from the original band – with songs formed around searing riffs and floating, elusive vocals.
Opener ‘Interference’ typifies what is to come: a driving beat coupled with a relentless fuzzed-up riff and Hampson’s echoed voice, seeming almost wholly detached from the surrounding mayhem. It’s followed up by ‘Eolian’ but, powered along by a galloping tom-tom rhythm and jagged guitars, there is none of the delicacy of a harp being strummed here.
Drummer Wayne Maskel seems to have eschewed the use of cymbals or hi-hat, an approach highlighted by the intricate percussive pattern he establishes on ‘Supra’. A fiery riff drifts over everything like the smoke from a burning forest while the bass uncoils in the undergrowth, subtle but essential. After the power of what has gone before, the track oddly fades out to a tinny sound, like something heard through an old transistor radio.
The tracks ‘Penumbra’ and ‘Penumbra II’ intersperse the attacks unleashed elsewhere, chiefly consisting as they do of brooding drones. The intensity of the former, where the drones rise against what sounds like a distorted cello, is unsettling, while the latter piece creates a mournful and strangely affecting mood.
At a relatively slow, loping pace, ‘Isochrone’ once more features resonant distorted chords and seemingly affectless vocals. As so often, the words are scrambled by echo and other effects as to be almost unrecognisable, so that Hampson’s voice becomes more than anything another instrument in the midst of the others, communicating a mesmeric feeling rather than a message.
‘Sonancy’ has much in common with earlier Loop, and never more so than on ‘Halo’, its shivering riff, dynamic drum pattern and remorseless bass evoking band standards like ‘Crawling Heart’ or ‘Arc-Lite’.
‘Fermion’, like the later ‘Axion’, takes its title from a sort of particle, but even though there are moments of unusual clarity with the vocals they’re not enough to confirm if this really means something or is simply random. Quantum physicists may be able to perceive a deeper meaning but for the rest of us, though the song isn’t complicated, its compelling speed and the music moving from channel to channel still make it irresistible. For Loop, ‘Axion’ is a straightforward rocker, apart from the buried effect shifting around its core.
‘Aurora’ returns to form and completes the album, full of rhythmic invention, energy and hypnotic strength which animate the locked-in guitars, bass and drums.
The Stooges were originally called the Psychedelic Stooges, and in the beginning an avant-garde experience rather than the players of barbed riffs and rhythms they became and what their name instantly evokes today. Loop decisively splice this form of rock with the kind of production effects that characterise classic psychedelia: ‘Sonancy’ really is the sound of the Stooges gone psychedelic.
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