Posted on July 24th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Michael Negron

When Loop first unleashed their peculiar brand of psychedelic space rock, they did so to an unsuspecting world. In a musical climate where My Blood Valentine were shifting from something like a cover band of The Birthday Party to the very beginning of an iconic sound, Loop had already established themselves as equally formidable, if less prominent acolytes of effect-driven distortion. Now, Loop prepare a return 25 years in the making with the odd spectacle that is Array 1.

For fans looking to pick up where A Gilded Eternity left off, you might find the first track a little misleading; “Precession” is essentially Gilded-era Loop transposed to a modern setting: higher production quality, a few new mixing tricks, but (almost) the same excellent songwriting. It might not immediately strike you as odd that the group has decided against tempo shifts or really any discernible deviations in composition, but it’s key to the development of the rest of the record. “Precession” is the transition that “Aphelion” reiterates, and by this point some things have become clear. Firstly, Loop may have done well to keep their mix in the ‘90s, as the mix is oddly, and at times painfully bright. Those who thought that the lack of low-end in previous records may have been a product of the times, look no further than “Aphelion.” It’s odd too, that the mix is so willing to employ a distinctly modern tone, but enhance one of the more questionable artistic choices of their past to frustrating levels.

Thankfully, the more immediate and significant change is mostly positive, if only to hear something new; the writing is at its most subtly transformative, enveloping and shifting, ridding itself of knee-jerk reactions altogether. “Coma” is true to its namesake, a 7-minute haze of dry synths and distortion, but it’s just the preamble to the monolithic “Radial.” The latter takes nearly as much time doing a darker take of about the same thing before providing the only surprising (although entirely logical) changeup in the whole half-hour experience; after an ambient climax, the band comes in once again, before fading to a second ambient section of approximately equal length. Overwrought but not overly long.

Array 1 is contradictory at heart. It happily co-opts some modern production techniques, but staunchly refuses others. It abandons eccentric composition, but chooses to confound with not one, but two hulking ambient centerpieces. That’d be odd at any time, but in what’s shaping up to be the year of rock comeback albums, it’s hard not to compare. Like many others, Array 1 is a borderline successful notch in a history that didn’t need saving, but barring that it’s hard to complain.

Track List:

  1. Precession
  2. Aphelion
  3. Coma
  4. Radial
Loop - Array 1
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

63 / 100
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