Heaven’s End
Fade Out
A Gilded Eternity
The World in Your Eyes


For a time in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it seemed as if someone had dosed England’s water supply. The country was outputting lysergically prone music at an alarming rate, with bands as diverse as Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine creating sounds that borrowed the psychedelic aesthetic of decades past, but jettisoned the hippy dippy element for a suitably acidic modern sensibility.

Second only to Spacemen 3 (in my book) then and now, Loop has been criminally overlooked by those discovering the hazy tones of that period. It no doubt has more than a little to do with the three studio albums the South London band released during its five-year existence being long out-of-print. Thankfully, Reactor Records has remedied that situation, issuing new expanded versions of Loop’s catalog in the UK in 2008 and now in the United States. Each of the band’s studio albums— Heaven’s End (1987), Fade Out (1989) and A Gilded Eternity—has been remastered and expanded to include a second disc of bonus material. Additionally, The World in Your Eyes, the band’s singles compilation from 1998, has been tripled in scope, from one disc to three, and now includes all of Loop’s EPs, their first demo tape, and their contributions to Nick Drake and Neil Young tributes.

After releasing the 16 Dreams EP (which is included on The World in Your Eyes) and shifting line-ups, Loop debuted with Heaven’s End. Leading off with the post-Stooges stomp of “Soundhead,” the record revealed the band’s MO to be firmly in place, even if they hadn’t completely developed the distinct ipseity that would characterize the records to come. On songs like the title track and “Too Real to Feel” Loop expertly sculpts distortion and phase into phosphorescent gems, though there may still be some anxiety of influence lurking in the background. I mean, it’s no coincidence that they have a song titled “Head On,” even if it’s not an actual Jesus and Mary Chain cover. On the bonus disc, though, they take on Suicide’s “Rocket USA,” with the Peel Session version being especially pleasurable.

But it was with Fade Out that Loop carved out its sonic identity. On cuts like “Torched” and “A Vision Stain,” they get wilder and woolier than heretofore, while also adding more space between their various elements so as to create sonic trails. Guitarist (and singer) Robert Hampson delves deeper inside himself to pull out lines and solos that spiral heavens ward or circle like a snake eating its tail. For the bonus disc, such figures have been isolated, with five tracks devoted entirely to Hampson’s guitar loops.

Loop’s crowning achievement, however, was A Gilded Eternity (the album that first caught my attention so many years ago). Tuned to some idiosyncratic key and with a mantra-like lyrical content, “Vapour” leads of the record and seemingly establishes the high-contrast aesthetic that Loop creates for the record. The song is as dark and mysterious as it is “trippy,” and with its repetitive pattern broken two-thirds of the way through its six minutes, the song seemingly collapses in on itself. “Afterglow” utilizes a similar motif of repetition and noise, with Hampson juxtaposing his vocals atop of the equally shimmery and fuzzy surface of the song. But this record never stays in one place for very long. “Breathe” mixes tribal rhythms with electronic flourishes, like the creation of some postmodern shaman, while the nearly 10-minute closer, “Be There Now,” is a suitably elongated final statement of guitar drone.

If all this wasn’t enough, The World in Your Eyes ties up all the loose ends by collecting just about everything else Loop released during its time together. Sure, not everything the band did was golden, but this three volume set let’s us all judge for ourselves. A cover of The Pop Group’s “Thief of Fire,” from the Collision EP stands out, while Loop’s take on Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon,” from the Brittle Days tribute record, leaves something to be desired. Meanwhile, on the lengthy “Mother Sky,” the band splits the difference between the Silver Apples and Can. All this material can be a lot to absorb in one setting (I know, I tried), but taken in digestible amounts, Loop’s catalog is as mesmerizing as that of any of the luminaries before them, the best of their contemporaries, or anything that followed.
Stephen Slaybaugh