LOOPER have announced details of a 5 CD box set, collating tracks from their entire catalogue, including the brand new album, Offgrid:Offline.
These Things is out on 13 April 2015 alongside digital releases of all of their albums: Up A Tree (1999), The Geometrid (2000), The Snare (2002) and Offgrid:Offline (2014).
In an inventive reinterpretation of ‘The Boxset’, Looper have curated the database of their entire body of work as five separate CDs, themed by type and entitled lexiphonics, kinokraft, voxtrot, transmitte and melos.
Inspired by mixtapes – and their modern day equivalent, the playlist – These Things puts the songs in new contexts, allowing new relationships between works previously kept apart. Looper explain, “For us this box is a repurposed, recycled and renewed work – an attempt to make something new out of something old”.
The concept of sampling – present both in the construction of the early music and the creation of the playlists – assumes visual form in the cut-and-paste collage artwork by Karn David. Photographs from the Looper archives illustrate her unique liner notes: quotes and ‘samples’ from music reviews and articles from the time of the original releases, collaged together to tell the story of Looper.
Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, who helped the band out of a jam in 1999, provides further sleeve notes. When the batteries in a sampler ran out during a show in LA a member of the audience came to their rescue, running out to fetch a pack of AAs. Looper later heard Tim had been their unlikely hero, but it seemed so preposterous they dismissed the idea. Tim professes his love of Looper here: “I wasn’t even exactly sure where the music came from: the past, the present, the future, another life or a parallel universe but it totally chimed with what I loved – a starkness attached to the glitches and bleeps but a real go get ’em soul to go alongside that.”
Looper emerged from Belle & Sebastian in 1997, when Stuart David (co-founder and bass player of B&S) and his wife Karn (an artist who directed the early B&S videos) collaborated for a show at Glasgow School of Art. A degree show fundraiser for Stuart’s sister Karla Black – who received a Turner Prize nomination in 2011- the performance was a multi-media affair incorporating TVs, super 8 film, 35mm slides and kinetic sculptures. Since nothing broke down and everyone clapped, they decided to keep doing it.
A single for SubPop, Impossible Things (1998), followed and its success led to SubPop requesting an album. Stuart’s brother, Ronnie Black, joined the band and Up A Tree 1999 (SubPop / Jeepster) was the result. Its mixture of spoken word, pop songs and instrumentals based around the use of sampled loops in a lo-fi aesthetic prompted Pitchfork to credit them with originating a new genre of ‘folk-hop’.
Long-time friend Scott Twynholm joined them for a series of tours (including a three month stint with The Flaming Lips), and their second album, The Geometrid in 2000 (SubPop / Jeepster) was consequently more of a band collaboration. A retro-futuristic work using an electronic sound palette, it was an attempt to sound the way people in the 1950s might imagine music in the year 2000 to sound. Many tracks were used in films and adverts, most notably Mondo 77 and My Robot, both used on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack (Cameron Crowe, 2001).
Their first release on Mute, The Snare (2002) was an attempt to marry the film music of John Barry with contemporary RnB beats in a style which, thanks to the shadowy presence of the characters Evil Bob and Peacock Johnson, became known as Noir’n’B. Developing their live show to include elements of trans-media storytelling, Looper’s ‘Murder Mystery DJ Set’ at London’s Royal Festival Hall was described by The Wire as “the stuff of legend”.
The following year, 2003, the band were prescient with their release of the MP3EPs (whose tracks feature on These Things), when they made each EP available via free MP3s on their site, http://www.looperama.com The MP3EPs utilized electro-pop and 1960s easy listening, along with further development of the spoken word form.
After the release of the MP3EPs Looper took a break from music for a few years, while Karn went back to art school to study animation and Stuart turned his focus to studying literature and writing novels.
A move to the remote countryside, post-study, prompted the creation of a new body of work. These new songs and stories – inspired by the return to peace and quiet, and influenced by indie-folk music – can be found in Offgrid:Offline, the latest album from Looper. Conscious of the very different styles of previous albums, Looper set out to bring together elements of each into this new work. Structured like the first album, around a recurring melody, Offgrid:Offline is thematically centred on the spoken word piece which gives the album its title, drawing together the musical motifs and lyrical themes from throughout. Seven of the ten album tracks will feature on These Things, along with a download of the full album. The new album will also be available to download or stream outside of the box set.
THESE THINGS – 5 CD BOX SET
Lexiphonics n. Spoken narratives accompanied by sample-based or electronic music, usually structured like a traditional pop song. [from Gk lexis: word, phonein: to make sounds, speak]
Kinokraft n. A form based around a looped riff. Vocals, when present, are usually sampled fragments- used as counter riffs. [from Gk kinemat: movement, Br craft: skill, art]
Voxtrot n. A hybrid form, combining elements of the ‘lo-fi’ pop song with the production and beats of hip hop and R&B. [from L vox: voice, Br trot: to move}
Transmitte n. A hybrid form, combining the ‘lo-fi’ pop song with arrangements and beats from all fields of electronica. [from Gl.* transmitter: send out signals, broadcast]
Melos n. A form in which the song is central. Elements from 1960s Easy Listening, Pop and Soul are combined using contemporary techniques and production. [from Gk. melos: song, tune]