Ever since Robert Fripp decided to run one reel of tape through two Revox reel-to-reel recorders, looping has become an essential technique in ambient music. On this album, Aidan Baker uses a more modern looping device (or so one would think) to create gentle, droning guitar pieces. Unlike most of his previous albums, Loop Studies is all instrumental and exclusively made of guitar sounds. No studio wizardry is involved, either: each of the four pieces was captured in real time. Sound quality is a bit disappointing to hi-fi ears, but it appears to be intentional: the hissy, treble-lacking sound reproduces the kind of quality you'd get from a tape during the heyday of the industrial cassette underground. Crank it up high enough and get lost into it; you'll forget the hiss. Baker patiently weaves his tunes, adding layer upon layer of short loops. Calling it a drone is somewhat limiting, since the music is actually more than just subtly changing, lush textures. There is also melodic material appearing in the form of repeating motifs. "Two" develops an insisting, yet delicate, theme. The guitar may be prepared in "Three," since it rings out with a distinctive gamelan quality. The highlight of the set is the 18-minute "Four." The textures are murkier, as if heard from underwater, with a few wails that evoke the songs of whales. And Baker adds a noisy solo in the last third that just lifts the piece toward another plane of existence. Simply beautiful.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture