Whether it’s architecture, fashion or music, 20th century modernism looks and sounds contemporary. Of a certain time, perhaps, but of the now, too. That’s true of English experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” which were reissued after the band reconvened last year for a world tour that hits the U.S. this spring. Though rooted in 1960s psychedelic agit-rock such as the Stooges, MC5 and Velvet Underground, Loop’s stormy drones are as agelessly futuristic as a mini-skirt or the Space Needle.
“I like everything in the modern sense of music,” says founding member Robert Hampson from his home in France. “I obviously don’t care what goes on in the charts, but I’m equally at home with the Stooges as I am John Cage. I’ve managed to have my feet in more rock-bound music, but also experimental music as well. I’ve been lucky in that really.”
It was shortly after 1990's angular, anxious “A Gilded Eternity,” a grunge blueprint if ever there was one, when Hampson pulled the plug. Still, the band’s influence reached from BRMC to the Black Angels, and Loop’s 23-date U.S. tour includes two shows at the Angels’ Austin Psych Fest in early May. Until this tour, Loop played only 10 shows in the last 25 years, and those took place last fall. It’s a curious thing why some bands stop making music; Hampson isn’t exactly sure himself.
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“It’s hard to say why we stopped. We’d been busy for a solid, long time, which obviously bands shouldn’t complain about,” he says. “But certain things become annoyances. It got to a point where I wanted to remove myself from it and do other things. Hindsight will tell you, I just needed a six-month break and then come back to it.”
Instead of taking that six-month break, Hampson and Loop’s guitarist Scott Dowson formed Main, an ethereal electronic outfit, whose exploration of minimalist trance continues to this day.
“Music’s always been around me. I’ve always been obsessed with music; my thing was to always be in a band. Even after feeling unhappy with Loop, I decided to continue. I just carried on way too long!” Hampson says self-effacingly. “But it seems I’ve been able to create a career from it. It’s been a long-running creative process — but, it’s a job as well!”