Looper began as a solo side project for Belle and Sebastian bassist Stuart David; his wife Karn (whose seven year epistolary courtship he chronicles on Looper's first record) and her photographer friend Ronnie Black helped make the live shows into multimedia experiences by providing film loops, slide projectors, and art installations. Eventually these two, who were musicians as well, joined Stuart onstage, along with Scott Twynholm, who had earlier been in a band with Stuart, left the country to pursue a career, and came back just in time to join Looper for their first North American tour.
Their first album, "Up a Tree", established their signature sound: electronic beats, sampled loops, and Stuart's soft Scottish murmur telling short stories under the music. They occassionally dipped into more conventional forms of electronica (no singing, just samples, hyperkinetic beats, and dance floor grooves), but even on these songs there is a warmth and humanity the penetrates the mechanized instrumentation.
On "The Geometrid", Looper becomes more of collective, with every member having input (the entire band receives writing credit for each song). The result is a more polished sound that explores new directions while still being faithful to the sound of the first Looper record. "On the Flipside", "Uncle Ray", and "Money Hair" are all upbeat near-rockers overflowing with innocent enthusiasm. "My Robot" (in which Stuart fantasizes about being able to teach his robot to write songs) and "The Modem Song" (whose backbone is a clever loop made up of a modem's screeches and beeps) are reminiscent of "Dave the Moon Man" and "Festival 95" from the first record, continuing the Looper tradition of spoken word pieces over programmed beats and recorded loops.
"Tomorrow's World" is not the song that you'll come away humming after the first few listens to "The Geometrid", but it's probably the most interesting song on the record lyrically and thematically. It is a dreamy, trancelike track anchored by a dissonant, computerized guitar that strains against the clean robotic snap of the drum machine. It that compares the world of Y2K with the world envisioned 40 or 50 years ago:
There's still no hotel on the moon
(I remember hearing there might be a pill you could take
Instead of eating a meal)
And nobody has travelled to Mars
(And everyone would live in things called "Biospheres")
This is year where the future was set
Ironically, they are saying, as far as we have come technology-wise, we're nowhere near where we imagined ourselves, and the day-to-day world actually hasn't changed all that much, even though we all have microwaves and big screen TVs now.
What you begin to understand after listening to Looper for only a short time is this: they are smart, they are funny, they are romantics, and they also happen to write incredibly catchy songs. "The Geometrid" may not be as novel and fresh as their fist record, but it is indicative of a potentially great band that has grown from a one person with a sampler and a drum machine to a fully formed group of four artists in less than a year trying to figure out where to go next. Given that Stuart David gave up his Belle and Sebastian gig after finishing the recording of their latest effort, Looper's future work should be even more focused and compelling.