Step Right Up: Factory Floor
“I listened to the tracks ‘Lying’ and ‘Wooden Box’ and thought they were brilliant…In the tracks I could hear something which reminded me of the spirit of New Order in the early days….They were raw, chaotic, fantastic and different – everything I’ve ever liked in a band.”
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
The highly anticipated debut full-length release of Factory Floor’s self-titled record arrived earlier this September on the independent label du jour, DFA. The London-based trio have released a plethora of underground treasures in the form of (much coveted) 12″ vinyl – featuring stellar remixes and an array of collaborations – across various labels such as Optimo Music and Blast First Petite. Furthermore, the band’s incendiary live performance – ranging from clubs, dance-floors to bars and parks conveying the trio’s eclectic sound – have cemented their reputation as one of the hottest bands around.
During the same month of ‘Factory Floor’s arrival, DFA released a deluxe re-packaged version of label-mates The Rapture’s ground-breaking ‘Echoes’ album. It’s quite apt. In 2003, ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ proved the anthem of the dance-floors, whilst the Gang Of Four tag seemed to be on every one’s shoulders. Guitar music to dance to proved the big buzz, where New York’s underground scene became the soundtrack to a generation. Ten years on, the DIY aesthetic of a seamless array of artists and bands, coupled with the eclectic, genre-defying sound (and Factory Floor is certainly one of those) has created a world of increasingly innovative, interesting and highly rewarding records. Factory Floor mixes it all – from industrial, post-punk, disco to minimalism, electro and dub. Simply put, the resulting ten killer tracks are to be embraced.
The debut record was produced and recorded by the band themselves in their North London warehouse space on a vintage mixing desk originally used by Dave Stewart, some thirty years previously, to record all the early Eurythmics hits. Factory Floor in its current, fully formed incarnation got together in late 2009 when guitarist/vocalist Nik Colk Void joined the rhythm section of drummer Gabe Gurnsey and synth player Dominic Butler. Soon, one of the band’s heroes and divine inspiration – Stephen Morris (Joy Division/New Order drummer) discovered the music of Factory Floor – after the trio sent a demo in the post, marked simply “Stephen Morris: Maccesfield.”
Says Morris: “I listened to the tracks ‘Lying’ and ‘Wooden Box’ and thought they were brilliant…In the tracks I could hear something which reminded me of the spirit of New Order in the early days….They were raw, chaotic, fantastic and different – everything I’ve ever liked in a band.”
Shortly afterwards, the trio collaborated with Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle and wound up joining their ranks for a number of international festival shows in 2011. Factory Floor’s collaborative work thus far has been wonderfully diverse, having collaborated with members of Throbbing Gristle, New Order, Richard H Kirk of Cabaret Volitaire, Simon Fisher Turner and Peter Gordon, and contemporary artists such as Haroon Mirza and Hannah Sawtell. Label boss declared his love for Factory Floor having seen them play in New York’s Mercury Lounge and Knitting Factory:
“It had a presence to it that was the same feeling I had when I saw say MBV in 1991 or Black Dice in 2001. It was just…exhilaratingly full and loud and relentlessly rhythmic….sonically it came at you and attacked you.”
Album opener ‘Turn It Up’ is a dazzling exploration of minimal and post-punk. The rhythm and infectious groove is utterly seductive. On the opening verse, the lyric “Where is a good place to start?” filters into the dub-infused headspace, as the vocals are transmitted through various registers. The track was mixed by Timothy ‘Q’ Wiles, an L.A. based producer who has previously worked with VCMG and Afrika Bambaataa; the sound of the latter is brilliantly captured in the pulsating beat. ‘Here Again’ contains glorious synth melody lines, where drifting arpeggios cascade onto the neon lights of dusk-filled streets. The song shares the spirit of Throbbing Gristle.
‘Fall Back’ contains a myriad of nuances and subtle details, impossible to de-construct. The fusion of Void’s vocals with the sonic backdrop of lucid beats and synths creates an otherworldly state of transcendence. The organic elements are effortlessly combined with the synthetic. “Did you feel like you were going to fall underground” permeates the cracks of slowed-down beats. If ‘Fall Back’ and the preceding short interlude ‘Two’ serve as the come-down, well, ‘How You Say’ (which starts side B resumes the relentless rhythms and hypnotic beats of Factory Floor’s repertoire. ‘How You Say’ is one of the album’s crowning jewels, where the luminaries of New York’s underground is etched across the sonic canvas. Think Liquid Liquid crossed with Chris & Cosey. The 12″ ‘How You Say’ remixes is essential listening, which includes interpretations by Perc and Richard H Kirk.
Next up is ‘Two Different Ways’, yet another killer track that builds gradually, as vocals, percussion, synthesizers are slowly added to the foreground of the mix. “I have a dream to keep” resonates powerfully into the dub-infused post-punk soundscapes. The result is nothing short of staggering. The penultimate track, ‘Work Out’ delves into industrial realms of sound, before album closer ‘Breathe In’ unleashes a mesmerising blend of funkified acid disco. ‘Factory Floor’ is a hugely promising debut from a band who are destined for great things.