The Shaman is out and about again, this time for some shoegazy psych in the Effenaar. The band may be a name that some have forgotten, but they are instrumental in forming the sound of the current day psych scene. That makes seeing this band play live after their long, long break a worthy plan for the Wednesday night.
Having formed in South London, back in 1986, the band was part of the British shoegaze scene of the time. Think of Spacemen3, Spectrum and My Bloody Valentine and add to that a The Velvet Underground. After disbanding in 1993, main man Robert Hampson started the more experimental band Main. Last year somehow the old feeling returned, Loop was reformed and here we are now.
Belgian composer Dirk Serries opens the night with a beautiful set of trippy, cool music. Eerie sounds reverberate through the venue that are being produced with a violin. The creation he makes resembles post-rock, but cleared of its normally loud and distorted sound. By cool, I’m trying to describe the feeling of a breeze through your hair on a warm summer day (rather ironic seeing it’s really getting quite cold!). It feels fresh and calming. Dirk Serries creates layers of sound that give a wonderful atmosphere, much thanks also to the lights. Beautiful sounds dwindle away and you almost wish you could just lay down and drift away on those. Unfortunately this part of the set is over much too soon.
Soon the time comes for Loop to climb onto the stage. The band has had some issues this summer and appeared to disband again, but here they are under the guidance of bandleader Robert Hampson. The hair is a bit grayer and his wife is not playing the drums tonight, but they look ready for anything. Wayne Maskell from The Heads is filling in on the drums tonight. The wave of sound immediately engulfs the audience. The sound is like a heavy layer of smoke lingering in the air, engulfing everyone and dipping them in a bath of hypnotic psych. A tapestry of heavy, but uplifting patterns keeps rolling onward in what feels like endless songs.
The performance feels mildly mechanical, but that is probably more the focus of the band then their pleasure in playing. They sound tight and cohesive, creating trance-like waves with throbbing, through languid rhythms. The peculiar sound of Loop is not one that you can get into easily; you have to open up to the shoegaze elements, so the heavy stoner-like drums can carry you along. Some of the crowd, of which there are way too little for a band like this, still seem to get into a wild state. After an hour or so the band leaves only to come back for two final songs.
The ‘See you next year’ feels highly doubtful of course, but you never know. A quote from the film 24 Hour Party People: “The smaller the attendance the bigger the history”. It feels fitting, since this unique band played a great set and has been of a major influence. Their heavy but lazy sound full of warmth is a dish best served warm and tonight was great for a tasting.
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Paul Verhagen (www.achromemoments.nl)