Factory Floor’s debut album has been a long time in the making. The band stretches back as far as 2005, although with a rather different lineup. The current incarnation released the well-received mini-LP Talking On Cliffs in 2009 and since then has sporadically released singles. What they’ve been doing with each subsequent release is refining their sound. This may sound strange – especially to people using Factory Floor as their entry to the group – since the snarling and pounding sound that the band has brought forth on this record would probably not be easily described as “refined.” But, comparing it to where they once were, somewhere middling between post-rock and meandering industrial ambient, the sound of Factory Floor is of a band that is now confident in their own original and entirely dominant sound.
Factory Floor wear their influences clearly on their sleeve. The very fact that they use “factory” in their moniker is a dead giveaway of one of their biggest analogues: Factory Records. Just listen to the drum sounds on certain tracks, which have more than a little of a Joy Division or New Order tint to them, especially on “Fall Back” and the electronic blasts on “How You Say.” They’re not trying to hide this fact, however, having been remixed and produced by those bands’ drummer Stephen Morris previously. This time they’ve taken on production duties themselves, much to the album’s benefit, since these songs have been a long time in live development and nobody knows them better than the band. The cover art itself is also reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s circa Computer World, and that militaristic electronic kraut is certainly somewhere in this album’s bloodline. Nik Colk’s vocals are not dissimilar to that of Kim Gordon, and the guitar manipulation on this album is something akin to what Sonic Youth might have put out on one of their SYR records in places.
The moniker Factory Floor goes even further into describing their sound, as you can easily imagine yourself standing on a factory floor while the music is playing, sounding like a large, well-run industrial behemoth of a machine chugging, hissing and creating all around you. The atmospheric whirrs and hums that haunt the album describe a gargantuan mechanism, and the mostly unintelligible manipulated vocals could be attributed to its workforce. Even the short interlude-like tracks push this idea further; “One” takes a short Nik Colk vocal cut and repeats and warps it into sounding like a machine’s error warning, while the scratching and stretching of guitar strings on “Two” bring to mind the grinding of gears in an overworked engine.
Overall the influences described above are only there in essence; Factory Floor is entirely its own entity. It’s industrial techno without any thudding bass; the flanging and skull-drilling beats more than making up for the lack of it. The opening track is called “Turn It Up” and you would be best advised to do so to get the most out of the album. And, as long as you’re into having your brain, eardrums and jaws severely rumbled and nearly cracked (as this listener is) then you will be forced to do so anyway. From the waves of physically crushing ecstasy that pulverize you in the appropriately-titled “Fall Back,” through the tribal flavours of “How You Say” and on to the hypnotic polyrhythms of last year’s breakout single “Two Different Ways,” you’ll soon fall into Factory Floor’s hazardously seductive musical death trap, and you won’t have a chance to catch your breath until the close of the once again appropriately-titled closer “Breathe In.” Once you’ve been sucked completely into their groove, you’ll understand completely why an experimental industrial group like this is signed to a dance label like DFA.