LOOP 1/ review of A Gilded Eternity 2/interview from 1988
LOOP, A Gilded Eternity (Situation Two)
Melody Maker, 1990
by simon reynolds
It's clear now that Loop peaked with their magnificent
brace of EP's in 1988, "Collision/Thief Of Fire" and "Black
Sun/Mother Sky". '89's Fade Out was just a consolidation of
the first album (some would say, a reiteration). And last
month's drab, ungainly "Arc-Lite" obviously heralded the
proverbial 'traumatic third album'. Here it is.
The title, A Gilded Eternity is at once perfect and
predictable: it actually sounds like one of the more
cumbersome metaphors dreamt up by we here at the MM branch of
the Loop Fan Club. A Gilded Eternity is another gesture at
what Loop were aiming at with the phrase "heaven's end".
Heaven is an "endless end" to the anxiety and restlessness of
fleshly existence. The 'apocalypse now' that Loop, the
Spacemen and their ilk yearn for is an end of history and an
end of geography: an escape from the shackles of time and
place. Some radical psychoanalysts believe that it's
Time itself that is the source of Man's alienation.
A Gilded Eternity also suggests to me what Loop should
be doing musically. By now, they should have transcended the
riff, transcended rhythm, and disappeared in a nebula of
originless sound. Their black energy should have turned to
lustrous entropy. They should have reached the nirvana of
"heaven's end". We've seen glimpses of this sublimated meta-
rock before, in the coda to "Forever" (off the first LP) and
with "Circle Grave" (off the "Black Sun" EP): dislocated
drones that circle each other endlessly, like gravity ripples
round a black hole.
New songs like "Vapour" and "Afterglow" seem to promise
the final coming of this rock afterlife. But put the needle
in the groove, and it's instantly clear that Loop are still
stuck in the garage. Only this time round they've lost the
gargantuan, irresistible momentum of yore. Their riffs no
longer sound primordial so much as underdeveloped. Where once
Loop were about going nowhere vast, now they just seem to
going nowhere. With "Nail Will Burn" they even get there,
only to find it's like the area between East Croydon and
Selhurst. And "Breathe Into Me" trundles grey like Red Lorry
Yellow Lorry, of all people.
There's a couple of tracks on A Gilded Eternity where
Loop get beyond themselves. "Blood" is a brilliant dub-scape
clearly influenced by Mark Stewart: a radioactive wasteland,
dust-plumes of Can guitar, and static crackle vocals like
Mayday signals from survivors trapped beneath the glowing
rubble. "From Centre To Wave" is v. Joy Division: glazed
bass drones and slash afer slash of guitar, superimposed into
a glare of sound. Blinding stuff.
The closing "Be Here Now" is the best excursion here
through Loop's traditional terrain. Magnificently pregnant,
impending chords are repeated for what feels like an eternity
(not quite a gilded one) before the entrance of Robert's
listless vocal. The verses alternate just a bit too neatly
with an absolutely beautiful solo, which rears up to raze the
upper echelons of the sky in identical fashion on each of its
appearances. The song finally blazes true just before the
end. But at nearly 10 minutes, "Be Here Now" sounds like a
sketch for a really overwhelming track.
A Gilded Eternity, then, is a disappointment. Loop are
letting themselves, and us, down. Better to have risked
reinventing themselves (even at the cost of producing a
disaster of indulgence), than to give us more of the same,
only less so.