Bathtime With Loop Guru
Perhaps there’s a problem with ambient techno: It seems like anybody can do it if they know how to push a button.
Now, you and I know that’s not true any more than a person can fly a plane if they know how to turn on an autopilot. But it does seem as though a higher level of craft is called for to distinguish the best of such bands from the crowd.
Some of what Loop Guru does is quite beautiful, “Devotion No. 1” being an example, although it never really resolves into anything.
The Gurus are Jamud and Saam, two Brits with a few loops and a couple of featured guest stars. Owing a little something to the ambience of Brain Eno, they construct pieces that are not so much songs as accumulations of color. Sometimes the results are neatly organic, such as on the title track, on which Saam is credited as “playing” a swimming pool and a bubble machine to good affect.
But I’m left with the question: Is this really the sort of thing you want to listen to for a whole album long? I mean it’s rarely less than pleasant, but…
Here’s another problem with ambient dub: It lacks focus. It drifts from place to place without, sometimes, any seeming idea of where it’s going or why. Actually, this isn’t always a problem – the Orb and Future Sound of London have gotten their emotional groove on nevertheless –but sometimes it leaves not much to talk about. Loop Guru do make nice with the techno, but sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a whole hell of a lot to do with their music.
I can’t help feeling that something is missing here, some new experience of sound collage that would make this all seem more original. On the one hand the duo are admirably restrained in their tones, but on the other there are times when going just a little bit more over the top could have helped illuminate their pictures.
I’m afraid this is a terribly wishy-washy kind of review, but that’s simply what Loop Guru inspires in me, an indefinite but by no means purely negative feeling of vague dissatisfaction. I approve of them in spirit; anyone who wants to let a little air into the polluted rock world is okay by me just on general principle. Those already interested in such things or merely curious will also find something to like here. But if these are Gurus, I guess I’m an iconoclast.
I want a spark, and Loop Guru gives me merely a kind of warming glow that soothes but does not thrill. Which may in fact be all that they were trying to do, give listeners a sound “bath” to enjoy as they would a water one. If so it does what it does well enough, I suppose, but the perennial question pops up: Is it worth doing?
This is interesting in a boring sort of way and flies exceedingly low. I’d recommend a trip round the Orb before you get in the bath with Loop Guru.