opinion by BRENDAN FRANK
It’s been a long time coming. If you need a sense of just how long, Factory are now signed to James Murphy’s DFA label. They formed the same year LCD Soundsystem released their debut record. Fragments of the UK trio’s first album have been floating around for the better part of two years, and they’ve have finally coalesced into a final product eight years in the making. Given this gestation period, you’d think the hype would have maxed out some time ago.
The crescendo sustained itself. Dom Butler, Gabe Gurnsey and Nik Colk Void continued to drop strident singles, and cultivated their reputation as formidable live performers. Factor Floor squeezes the scope the band achieve on stage into the studio, and relinquishes very little of its force. These aren’t songs; they’re schematics, synthesized from rudiments of proto-techno, acid house and industrial noise, guided by an invisible hand that clenches like a vice.
This album is all about momentum. While there’s something to be said for Factory Floor’s commitment to the format, the seven longer tunes and the numbered intermissions that punctuate them do suffer slightly from monotony. Stone-faced vocal loops slither and sway, while trellised synths stained sour with modulation are kept on lockdown by a blend of throbbing, hi-hat-happy percussion and drum machines.
This redundancy is mitigated by the fact that Factory Floor are intelligently updating some rather dated sounds. Several of the longer tracks here would slot perfectly into any DJ set. None more than lead single “Fall Back”, which bubbles, then erupts, with sensually tranquilized vocals from Void: “Do you ever feel like you’re going to fall on the ground?” Taken end to end, however, the record has something of a numbing effect, in particular with the scorched hissing of “How You Say?”.
The most intriguing components of Factory Floor’s arrangements are Gurney’s percussion. He keeps the music centered, but embarks on tangents that press to be dissected by close listening. On “Here Again”, he bolts down free radical synthesizers into a hermetic groove that serves as a jumping-off point for a wholesale sonic adventure. The bellicose beat of “Two Different Ways” piles up fluttering toms, handclaps, and clonking cowbells to thrilling effect, while staccato synthesizers come at you like a shower of rubber bullets. On “Turn It Up” he drops totally independent tempos that make no sense together until they do, before Butler spins out a cyclonic, razor-sharp texture over top.
Factory Floor take on dance music with a zeroed-in intensity that overwhelms with its power and volume. There’s no dimmer switch here; this album is always on. It can be as exhausting as it is energizing. Punitive, scientifically exacting, and obstinately anti-melodic, Factory Floor is a bizarre, kinetic manifesto that rewards your attention while it screams at you to move your body. [B]