Tom Hall is a somewhat obscure audio/visual sound artist from Australia whose bridging of feeling for installation with the tape loop medium makes this exceptional tape on Habitat Tapes, Thought Loops, an excellent example of minimal psych ambient sounds providing maximal pleasure. Side one opens with a distorted raga pulse, shimmering with lights swinging slowly in the background, an electric charge surging through the air as Hall’s proverbial thought loops progress, or does they? Some of this material reminds me of the tail end of a mushroom trip that left my mind caught in its own form of thought loop. My mind was, at last, turning to goo; it was disorienting and orderly all at once. Thought Loops gave me some of the same sounds that I equate with that experience, but I was only given those vivid memories again by way of the deconstruction of vocal sounds into nonsense and randomization. This tape undergoes an odd sort of evolution as it’s not exactly one long uninterrupted thought, but is more like a manic break into insanity. For what it’s worth, it’s a thought that I enjoyed the sound of. Hall lets the tape player slowly unravel as the magnetic sheen slowly but surely degrades into a mess of spooling reels and incorrect tension calibrations, with voices starting to emerge over the aforementioned pale din.
There are sure to be a lot of people who will moan about the monotony of material like Thought Loops, but to quote Mark E. Smith: “We like repetition!” But the reality of it is simply that you need this tape if you say you like William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops or any auditory documentation of slow dissolution through warped playback devices, filtering/looping techniques, and a patient sense of timing and transition. This tape put me into a trance for most of the first side, and frankly, I’d rather meditate over a single tape loop repeatedly than listen to that contemporary harsh noise wall dreck any day of the week. Side B finds Hall going into more serene, ambient territory, focusing on drones so light that they sound as if they created through helium, replacing the air in your room with sleeping gas.
Thought Loops has been released in a criminally low edition of thirty and comes packaged in those ridiculous soft-plastic cases that fans of cassettes (including myself) seem to hate so much. There’s also regrettably no spine on the J-card. I’m going to forgive these presentation errors because the sounds found on Thought Loops are ace.
A1) Thought Loop 1
A2) Thought Loop 2
B1) Thought Loop 3
B2) Thought Loop 4