Release Date: Aug 19, 2016
Record label: DFA
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
Described by the band as both utilitarian and playful, there’s something extremely necessary to 25 25. Reduced to a duo comprising Nik Colk and Gabe Gurnsey, album #2 has an urgent focus about its personage. Icy, claustrophobic, and hypnotic, the beats arrive refracted; cool-filtered; a continuum of sorts through which Colk’s vocal triangulations arrive in a succession of mutations; vaguely retro (and therefore hip) yet simultaneously contemporaneous (thus detached from vogue).
If Factory Floor continue at their current rate the next album will likely be a recording of Nik Colk Void in a room. Clapping. With one hand. A lot has changed since the band’s 2011 self-titled debut. A lot has been lost, at any rate. Literally 33% of the band, in fact, with the departure of Dom ….
They may be just one album down, but you already know what to expect from Factory Floor. Right from the very start, Nik Void and Gabriel Gurnsey's sonic shtick has been dark, visceral electronica that pulses like the twitching, itching corpse of industrial techno. Thankfully, the London based duo hasn't changed. .
Adaptation allows an organism to improve its ability to live in its habitat. Within their new habitat of late-night club shows, Factory Floor have adapted themselves in order to thrive within their new environment. 25 25 is the pulsating and excellent documentation of the two-piece’s adaptation. Although 25 25 signifies another chapter within Factory Floor’s constant evolution - from playing later at night, to the departure of Dominic Butler and the exploration of novel, analogue technology - the intrinsic DNA that characterises Factory Floor, undeniably persists on 25 25.
With each of their releases, Factory Floor's evolution has come through subtraction; removing sounds -- and sometimes, members -- has allowed them to change and grow at a rapid rate. The group's second album, 25 25, is its first as a duo, with Gabriel Gurnsey and Nik Colk Void using the pared-down equipment of their live shows to create minimalist tracks that are more agile and seamless than ever. At times, 25 25 makes Factory Floor seem downright lush.
“Industrial music is a genre of experimental/electronic music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes.”– Wikipedia The Dirty Factory Floor is more than just a cheeky moniker for a hardware-preoccupied duo (formerly trio) trading in stark beats, giving a subtle nod to production, consumption, and rock history; it’s the name of a new kind of dance floor and the place of a new kind of dancer, e.g. a naked person at the Tate Modern: the ecstatic pioneer of a deeply haute anxiety, bordering on the sublime. Where something dirty is introduced to a meticulously cleaned environment, and the tension spawned by their co-presence is resolved only in moments when the two seem to run together.
Often, live music can feel almost as rote an experience as the nine-to-five: queue, beer, whoop and good night. In 2012, however, Factory Floor – then a trio – played a three-hour set at London’s Tate Modern. Members of the audience reportedly became so transported, they started taking their clothes off. Inspired by early synth music, industrial post-punk and the arty end of the dance music spectrum, Factory Floor acquired a reputation around the turn of the decade as one of the loudest, most exhilarating bands around – a band whose totalitarian-sounding loops required you to dance.
‘25 25’ is Factory Floor’s second album on DFA Records, and first as a two-piece. The record sees Nik Void and Gabriel Gurnsey venture further into their club, bringing their recorded output closer to the experience of their now-infamous, pulsating live show. Opener ‘Meet Me At The End’ sets out the album’s intentions plainly - a relentless, unforgiving slab of heart-racing techno, which is quickly followed up by the slightly more up-and-down but no less effective ‘Relay’.
There are some things you can deduce about Factory Floor from their name, and some you can’t. They do not have much to say on industrial relations, for example. On the other hand, they do make a lot of clanging noise. Indeed, at the time of the release of their 2013 debut album, the electronic group were renowned as one of the loudest live acts around.
Factory Floor have lost something. In fact, listening to only their second album in 11 years, it’s quite easy to tell they’ve lost loads. Band members, a group mentality, drumkits – all have fallen by the wayside in the three years since their debut – but there’s no need to worry. Their sound is now more stark and metronomic than ever before.
Repetition and austerity are key principles of minimal electronic music. When Factory Floor described their latest album, 25 25, as "ultra-minimalist," it carried an implicit promise of quality. Subtraction is both the album's theme and its trigger—the departure of Dominic Butler, who last appeared on the band's self-titled album, left Factory Floor in the hands of Nik Void and Gabe Gurnsey.
To date, Factory Floor have appeared in a state of constant flux, each successive release resembling a snapshot taken on the eve of a new mutation. Beginning as a claustrophobic post-punk band in 2008, their accelerated evolution has seen the North Londoners graduate through Chris & Cosey-style industrial dance, white-hot analog synth attacks, hi-NRG acid traxx, and New Order-indebted dance pop. The main point of continuity has been a manic energy that lingers somewhere between the ecstatic and the oppressive.
For a band that is still only about a decade old, Factory Floor have undergone a lot of changes, some intentional, others out of necessity. The London-based outfit made a purposeful shift away from the industrial-leaning plod of early singles like “Lying” and “A Wooden Box” into more dance floor-friendly, yet still jagged-edged fare that made up their self-titled full-length from 2013. The modifications that they undertook for their latest LP, 25 25, were somewhat forced upon them after the departure of keyboardist Dominic Butler.
Popular dance music in the 21st century has become all about surface appeal, about maintaining fashionability and following strict formulas of success: big house beats, bigger pop hooks, and even bigger bass drops into the visceral thrust of a primordial musical breakdown. It’s all that cosmetic production value and neon flash that sustains its commercial audience, a shift which has seen mainstream EDM culture become a loud, colorful offshoot of the modern pop juggernaut in a way its progenitors never desired to be. In this landscape full of fluff and bombast, minimalism can be subversive, even revolutionary.
For all the platinum discs and empty platitudes bestowed on superstar DJs-cum-producers like Calvin Harris and David Guetta, it would be fair to say dance music has been in a state of flux for some time now. Nigh on two decades if we're being honest. Whereas acid house and rave culture came along at the tail end of the Eighties like an electronic hybrid of punk rock rallying against the corporate greed of major labels and industry bigwigs, its gradual dilution into an inoffensively watered down commercially viable product whose main purpose in life is to soundtrack video games or sell mobile phones.
Crawling towards you, advancing slowly before eventually seizing you by the collar and giving you a good throttle is the slow onset of 'Meet Me At the End' - the opening track of Factory Floor’s 25 25. It escalates gradually, introducing specks of percussion over a relentless, acid-y bassline, before Void’s processed vocals snake in and out of the mix. Quite a few things have changed for Factory Floor since the release of their eponymous LP.
In this era of flatulent and flabby EDM, it’s refreshing to hear a record like ‘25 25’. One that’s tight and challenging and knows its dance music history. One that will appeal equally to aficionados of experimental electronic music and the 6am Sunday morning club crowd. It’s Factory Floor’s second album and it’s their best.As a band, Factory Floor have always felt different.
It's been a rather emotional beginning of September for those who are wholly enraptured with Nick Cave's chilling Skeleton Tree. But if you've been looking for some music to decompress with, then the past month featured some rather great offerings. My top choice for the month goes to the singular ….