Stuart David, frontman of Looper, former bassist of Belle and Sebastian, and the author of Nalda Said and The Peacock Manifesto, has gone missing, if his web site at www.looper.info is to be believed.

His mysterious disappearance, we are told, follows a falling out with one Peacock Johnson, the Begbie-esque protagonist of his latest novel. Earlier, Johnson had forcibly taken over the Looper web site and made it a vehicle for his anti-Stuart David rants, claiming that David had originally promised to credit him as co-author and had despicably reneged on the deal, pretending to be the sole author of the work and giving Johnson no credit at all, almost as if he were nothing but some character from a novel. Besides hacking the web site, Johnson also turned up at book signings to decry his treatment.

Johnson forced David's hand, it seems, and in a private agreement he was given creative control over the new Looper album, The Snare, as compensation for the affair with the book. The album has a much darker feel to it than Looper's previous offerings, perhaps due to Johnson's influence. After Stuart David's disappearance Peacock Johnson - who, incidentally, looks very much like Stuart David with a moustache - filled in for him at gigs, apparently taking over the band, until their UK tour was cancelled without explanation after a concert at London's Royal Festival Hall.

Let me back up a few years.

Stuart David started writing songs and playing in bands at around the age of 15. He met Stuart Murdoch on a Youth Training Scheme before Belle and Sebastian was formed, and the two of them would get together at parties with an instrument each and perform songs they had written; when Belle and Sebastian came together Stuart David played bass for the band and provided occasional vocals. He stuck with them for three albums, and wrote and recorded two spoken word tracks with them - A Century of Elvis, on the Lazy Line Painter Jane EP, and A Space Boy Dream on The Boy With The Arab Strap. He also wrote and sang one song which made it onto a record, Winter Wooskie on the Legal Man EP, and another song, Paper Boat, which was never released.

During the time he was with Belle and Sebastian he also started Looper as a semi-solo project - in the beginning it was just him and a sampler, but then he got his wife Karn involved, providing snatches of vocals, projecting films at the live shows and designing the artwork, while his brother Ronnie Black projected slides. The first Looper album, Up a Tree, was released on Jeepster in March 1999. Consisting mainly of spoken word tracks full of looping samples and interesting drum breaks with David drawling witty anecdotes over the top in his thick Glaswegian accent, the album was a success. Soon after it was released Stuart David's first novel, Nalda Said, was published by IMP Fiction. He had first written the book years earlier, before he became known for his music, and had put it out quietly on the internet, but it was only when it was spotted by IMP that it reached a mass audience. The book received generally positive reviews, although some people seem to have found the ending a little disappointing.

Some time after Winter Wooskie was recorded, David left Belle and Sebastian to concentrate on Looper and on writing. Since then he has completed two more Looper albums, The Geometrid - which features more singing and proper instruments and less storytelling, and all in all has a very different feel from the first - and The Snare (released on Mute), from which his spoken anecdotes and looped samples are entirely absent, and which has a very different feel again, with deep, dark grooves and a sort of film noir feel about it. Some people have assumed that the album was intended as a soundtrack for the film of his second novel, The Peacock Manifesto, which would make a lot of sense - he has apparently signed a film deal for the book with Samuelson Productions, the London-based production company behind Wilde and Arlington Road - but he hasn't given any hint that this is the case either in the material accompanying the album or in interviews since.

Stuart David's whereabouts remain unknown.

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