Released Friday 11th March 2022
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“Style wise, it’s incredibly different, going back to thinking about guitars and
guitar sounds. Obviously you have to take into consideration things like percussive
elements such as drums, which I haven’t been using in my other projects; but this is
the mind set that makes up Loop.”
So says Robert Hampson, the indefatigable visionary behind inspirational
sonic architects Loop, whose eagerly anticipated fourth LP Sonancy (Latin for “to
create noise”) is the perfect document for these strange times. Dynamic, dystopian,
righteously angry and unashamedly Loop-ian, it’s an album that marks a vital re-
emergence for Hampson and co.
Formed in South London in the mid-1980s, Loop blazed a trail with their
potent mix of motorik beats and heavy guitar riffs, recording a trio of brilliant albums
that set the indie charts alight before imploding in 1990 after the release of album
number three, A Gilded Eternity. As critics enthused at the time, Loop were the
sound of Suicide jamming with the Stooges aboard a spaceship built by Hawkwind
and piloted by CAN. They were post-psychedelic, pre-shoegaze figureheads in a
world of anodyne pop jangle and baggy rhythms, and even their closest
contemporaries like Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine didn’t plough such a
distinctive furrow as theirs.
After Loop’s demise, Hampson pivoted away from guitars with electronic
project Main, before moving to France and hooking up with fabled experimental
collective Groupe de Recherches Musical (GRM). Loop were a distant memory, one
that Hampson seemed unwilling to revisit, so it was a delightful surprise when they
remerged in 2013 to play and curate the All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) festival,
followed by a performance personally requested by Robert Smith of The Cure at
Meltdown Festival in 2018.
“Through that long period when I often said I wouldn’t reform Loop, I didn’t
miss it, I didn’t feel the need to have it in my life,” Hampson explains. “It was working
with people like Barry Hogan at ATP and the re-mastered reissues of our original
albums coming out that sparked my interest again. It took me a few years to be
comfortable to say, ‘Yes, we can do this again, we’re relevant’. I’m not someone who
will do something for the sake of doing something.”
Along with the live shows, there also came new music in the shape of a 2015
EP called Array 1, the first in a planned trio of EPs of protracted tracks which
Hampson eventually abandoned in favour of the more direct pleasures of their
astounding new full length Sonancy.
“I dropped the idea of the EP series and went in an entirely different direction.
I started writing songs that were much more immediate, tighter, dare I say more
aggressive – although not aggressive in the old Loop way, but with a spikiness. It
needed to sound more modern. When Main petered out, I started working with
people like the GRM in France, so I went in the direction of electroacoustic musique
concrète. Loop is completely removed from that, but there are parts of the Array EP
and Sonancy that go towards the more experimental sounds. It’s not just guitar
“My motto has always been ‘Forward’ and I always try to do something new
with each record. I always try to push different influences in there. Specifically for this
record, I wanted to counter the idea of the Array EP, on which all the tracks were
longer and drawn out. They still had the motorik element of bands like Neu! and
CAN, but Loop’s always had that. With Sonancy I also wanted to take a post-punk
sound, spin it on its head and mix it with a psych influence. A total gumbo. Which
has always been Loop, this mash up of spicy rhythms.”
Indeed, with its rich mixture of styles and cadences, Sonancy is the sound of
Loop in the 21 st century, Hampson’s intense guitar work anchored by propulsive
backing in service of songs with clinically dissociative titles such as ‘Eolian’, ‘Supra’,
‘Penumbra’ and ‘Fermion’.
“People who know my music well know that from the last Loop album
onwards, my interest in chemistry, science and astronomy have come to the fore,”
Hampson elaborates. “I use those titles but I use them in an abstract context. With
the cutback, minimalist sound I wanted for this record, I wanted to do that with the
lyrics and the titles as well. It’s very immediate. The songs are shorter in length, the
lyrics more minimal than ever.
“I’m often asked to print the lyrics but I want people to approach our records
with a sense of mystery, so you don’t necessarily know what’s going on. You may
call it challenging. I’m influenced by J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick to a certain
degree. Lyrically, if you listen to it intently, there’s this dystopian outlook. There’s a
lot of anger in there. I don’t like seeing the wanton abuse of power, which is what
we’re seeing right now and I’m disgusted by it. I wouldn’t say Sonancy is bleak
though because I’m one of those people who believes there’s a chance for change.
That may be naïve, but I always hope that people will come out of this coma they all
seem to be in. I’ve imbued the lyrics with a little bit of hope.”
Hope is a powerful force, one perhaps needed more than ever today.
Pandemic lockdowns stretched the making of Sonancy, recorded at long-term Loop
soundman Joe Garcia’s Bristol-based studio Joe’s Garage, from an expected couple
of weeks to almost a year. Still, if recording was elongated, the experience was
made easier by the interplay between the members of what is the most enduring
line-up of Loop to date.
“I formed Loop, I’m the sole original member, I’ll just carry on, but the current
Loop line-up has been pretty stable for the last six or seven years. We have Wayne
[Maskel, drums] and Hugo [Morgan, bass] from The Heads, who a lot of people
know, a fantastic rhythm section, and Dan [Boyd] on second guitar, who offered us
“I was very anti-guitar for a long time. You hear progressively through the
Main period the guitar fading away. I just felt that it didn’t have any place in what I
was sonically trying to do and I didn’t miss it at all. Now, having a guitar in my hands
doesn’t bother me anymore as long as I can do something useful with it; and working
with the current line-up we have, it’s very enjoyable indeed. Long may it reign.”
Today, Loop stand as innovators in a musical world that has embraced and
followed their defiantly individual sound – there are hundreds of contemporary neo-
psych artists out there who arguably would not exist without Loop’s pioneering
music, music that continues to evolve and grow in the most startling of ways on
“It crosses my mind that there are a myriad of those kinds of bands out there,
and if I’ve influenced anybody, wonderful. Ultimately, however, Loop is Loop. I
wouldn’t call us space rock, I wouldn’t call us psych, I wouldn’t call us Krautrock.
We’re Loop. Whatever comes out under the name Loop is Loop.”
Welcome to Sonancy, a sound that is most definitely Loop.
4. Penumbra I
8. Penumbra II
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