The Geometrid

(Looper) may use a lot of electronics but they're actually in the strangely zealous tradition of lo-fi DIY indie...

[a]Looper[/a], the now full-time project of former B&S bassist Stuart David and wife Karn, may use a lot of electronics but they’re actually in the strangely zealous tradition of lo-fi DIY indie. Looper are sending out musical signals from the edge of pop’s radar, the sort of sounds made by people who by choice or circumstances are almost, but not quite completely, detached from [I]what’s going on [/I]and where it’s supposedly at.

Hence David‘s accented vocals sound like they’ve been phoned in, crackling like an SOS message, most affectingly on ‘On The Flipside’, “I’m on the flipside of the sun/It’s a place for having fun/I’m frozen by a nameless fear…”. With its hankering wah-wah riff and shooting-star synths, it’s the highlight of ‘The Geometrid’, plaintive and barely hanging in there.

‘Modem Song’, built around the sound of a modem, is touching, too, using electronics to stress the vulnerable, distant relationships between people: here, a friend in Tokyo. ‘My Robot’, meanwhile, is a funny-sweet tale of David‘s efforts to programme a robot to write his songs.

Unfortunately [a]Looper[/a] digress from this unique take on the man-machine shtick. ‘Mondo ’77’ and ‘Tomorrow’s World’ are mini-musical essays on the well-worn theme of retro-futurism. ‘Bug Rain’ recalls a [I]Magnolia[/I]-style scenario when they were driving along on their last American tour only to find the road covered with frogs. Coo. There are moments when [a]Looper[/a] are annoyingly wee. ‘PuddleMonkey’ is a mercifully brief thrash mess, a tribute song to Karn‘s fictional band of the same name. Karn has a fictional band. Let’s all throw up. When they’re fragile, Looper are precious, when they’re whimsical they’re plain weedy.

[a]Looper[/a] are least effective when they try to inject some anthemic joy into proceedings, as on ‘Uncle Ray’ or ‘Money Hair’, intended as a passionate finale but whose flaccid sub-Stax brass falls utterly flat. The anti-passionate ‘These Things’ is more like it, conceived onstage when the batteries to their sampler went flat. That’s [a]Looper[/a] at their best strength through weakness.