This article was first published on Louder Than War on 5 September 2013.
Factory Floor – Factory Floor (DFA)
CD / DL / LP
Released 9 September 2013
The debut from Factory Floor has been much anticipated and it delivers experimental electronica beyond expectation to be one of the best, and most original, albums of 2013.
It’s been a long wait for this album-length offering from London trio Factory Floor, but that patience has been highly rewarded as the self-titled debut is one of the most progressive yet punishing releases of 2013 so far.
Teasing ahead of release, lead track Turn It Up was released online last month. It gave a taste of the precision-cut layers of sound that were to come.
As an opening track it sets the scene well, imploring the listener to, well, turn it up. In fact, it’s with repeated listens that the depth of the track and the intricacy of sounds across the rest of the album become evident. This is an album which definitely reveals more of itself with each listen.
But for the reward it makes you work – it gives most when you do too. Somewhat demanding in these digital attention-poor times, this album is one you need to immerse yourself in. So, stick those headphones on, dim the lights, let yourself sink into the sounds.
Following on from Turn It Up we get Here We Go, with more of those brain-blistering beats, looping-the-loop, white noise waves crashing. It’s the persistence that builds the intensity and so the sub-minute pressure valve of One is well-placed to let you regain senses.
One is the first of three pull-in places spaced through the album (the other two are Two and Three); they manage to provide respite without breaking the flow of the album overall.
Following the harmonic build of One, we get the industrial robot disco of Fall Back. There is Close Encounters brass stabs, a metallic wind-a-whistling and laser zip zaps. This otherwordliness still feels warm though, comforting in it’s depth and shape.
The next dot of musical punctuation for the long-player comes with Two, echoing twangs of discordance before How You Say is heralded with tip-tap, organic sounding percussion; the build and drop getting you reaching for the lasers pulsating before your mind’s eye.
Two Different Ways brings home that this is an album of seriousness at play, a performance despite being recorded. It’s simultaneously progressive, demonstrating the experimental nature of a band still expanding while also making nice, comforting musical nods to the past and the familiarity of reverb and synths.
Three soothes with a chilled out organic arpreggio before the digital edge returns with Work Out. Very much a ghost in the machine as the 16-bit melody is haunted by distant vocal calls and static hiss. This is as close as the album comes to being danceable, as a Blue Monday-ish snap of beats fill, sonic steam builds pressure and the repeats bubble away. It’s fun breaking into the seriousness and encouraging a head nod, a foot tap and the knowledge that this collection of often weird sounds is something that unexpectedly connects.
Album closer Breathe In keeps this connection wired. The distant vocal is up close now, unsettling in the disjointed flow. It brings once again the sense that this is performance and for a demanding record it would make perfect, enthralling sense played live.
Is this music for the masses? Unlikely. But then the masses seem to like to be spoon-fed songs that are as much marketing as they are music, rather than immerse their senses in something more cerebral but ultimately rewarding.
However, for those tempted by the hypnotic rhythms this album is an accomplished offering delivering experimental electronica far exceeding the hype, beyond individual expectation. The wait was more than worth it.
All words by Sarah Lay.