Looprider – Umi

To love the sea is common. To summon the sea’s energy is powerful artistry.

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Artist – Looprider
Album – Umi
Label – Call and Response Records
Website – https://looprider.com/

Many bands claim to hate being pigeonholed into a genre, few do anything about it.  But Looprider is a band that feels the strain of all the genres they haven’t made an album in. Consequently, they take their third consecutive leap into a new genre on Umi.

Looprider didn’t so much debut as kick down a door on My Electric Fantasy. Taking their name from a track off the 2011 Boris album, New Album, they also took on Boris’ post-Pink ultra-heavy shoegaze sound (why are there not more bands operating in this space?) The surprising part: It was not just good, it was excellent.

Then Looprider took a major turn with Ascension. That record clearly sought to destroy eardrums, the cute cartoon character on the cover of My Electric Fantasy, and comparisons to Boris. It was essentially rhythmic blasts of harsh noise. Kudos on the execution, but it’s not exactly morning commute music.

They’ve returned with Umi, their least heavy album, but it might be their best. It is a single twenty-five minute track. Even if there aren’t individual songs, I count at least four very distinct movements. Why are they indivisible? Only Looprider knows for sure, but it is clear, at least, that the band wants us to listen to it in a single sitting. And it works best that way.

I call the movements, “intro”, “post-rock serenade”, “the heaviness”, and “outro”. Mostly instrumental, only “post-rock serenade” and “the heaviness” contain vocals, and are, incidentally, the highlights.

“Post-rock serenade” sports a graceful repeating guitar motif and gentle vocals. It is not just lovely, but has a strong romantic undercurrent. The band captures the feeling of a bitttersweet slow dance. That doesn’t mean the song sounds like the music one slow dances to, but the feelings one has during the dance. When the volume arrives, it sounds like a tidal wave tearing down the dancehall, but the lovers never let go. Even as they are washed away, they are together.

As “post-rock serenade” drifts away, a roll of drums signals the arrival of “the heaviness”. Unusual for shoegaze and doom oriented music, the sound is positively positive, triumphant even. The band sings over, solos with and generally has fun with a huge riff that is remarkably uplifting.

Then comes “outro” a bruisingly gentle finish. While the guitar tones could strip paint, they are inviting and warm. Not unlike the sea, lovely to look at, nevermind the potential to be devastatingly destructive. And that’s the end, Umi finishes by dissipating into the sea, becoming one with it.

If anything, the story of Looprider is the story of its mascot. She started as a cute anime girl, an electric fantasy. Then she ascended, but the ascension was destructive and violent, destroying her corporeal form. Now she has become a goddess, become the sea. She is calm but can turn violent in a moment. She is romantic, triumphant, mysterious.

Now as lovely as all this, Umi won’t help Looprider evade comparisons to Boris who also famously refuse to stay put in a single genre. After all, Boris’ third album was also a turn towards post rock with an aquatic theme (Flood). But that doesn’t matter. Looprider has always made music strong enough to stand on its own, Umi is no different.

So let Umi toss you about on its waves, envelop you, give you new life.

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