Frequently likened to Spacemen 3 for their aggressive approach to trance creation, Croydon’s Loop create pulsating, nearly impenetrable pieces that are often lunkheaded in their maximal approach to minimalism. (Imagine all the “NO”s trumpeted on the sleeve of Metal Machine Music — panning, phasing, instruments — replaced by “MORE PLEASE!” and you’ll begin to get the drift.) But more often, the shadowy quartet is just plain dogged in its pursuit of The Holy Riff; locating said icon, Loop clamps down hard, wielding minor chords like marrow forks, greedily digging out sustenance with all the insane energy of the Stooges, tempered by the fanatical symmetry of German experimenters like Can and Faust.
The germ of that fusion is evident on Loop’s first two EPs. Setting the tone, the rudimentary drumming of Bex (the wife of group leader Robert, who like the rest of the band, goes to great pains to hide his surname — in this case, it’s Hampson) brings back fond memories of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks’ Bradley Field. (The contents of those two discs, plus an enveloping, drugged-out version of Suicide’s “Rocket USA,” were repackaged as The World in Your Eyes.) Collision cut back on the cocooning tendencies; Loop covers the Pop Group’s lurching “Thief of Fire,” adding brass knuckles to the original’s sinewy threat. Released a bit too close to the band’s similarly titled album for comfort, Eternal is a pairing of Collision and “Black Sun,” a late-’88 single.
A few lineup changes (and plenty of new effects boxes) later, Loop unleashed the head-nodder’s paradise of Heaven’s End, a mini-album unsettling enough to suit those who keep their noses in the ether and feet planted firmly in the gutter. Fade Out heightens the menace a notch. With Robert’s husky whisper mixed low, songs like “Black Sun” and “This Is Where You End” would sound like odes to Baal even if they were about girls on the beach.
A Gilded Eternity seems like the apex of Loop’s trance-essential meditation phase. Cursory listens might leave the impression that not much actually happens in any of these lengthy songs, but concentration reveals catalytic conversions aplenty — from ambient violence to Detroit-drawn thrash. Given the maelstrom they cut a swath through, enervating tests of dub technique are fascinating, perhaps pointing the band in a less static (but no less hypnotic) direction.