There’s a paradox central to Factory Floor, the debut by the London trio of the same name: It pools decades-old electronic subgenres (Throbbing Gristle industrial, 808 State acid, etc.) and molds them into bricklike patterns with relatively few moving parts. It’s expansion through contraction. In a way, Factory Floor’s aesthetic defends them from the scrutiny that comes with signing to DFA Records – James Murphy’s label being one of our more consistent indies – because this music is as taut and lean as to be just about airtight.
Factory Floor is less disruptive than the granular noise of 2010’s 35-minute collection Lying / A Wooden Box, but somehow rawer. All seven of the non-interlude tracks top six minutes, chugging along at varying degrees of spasticity once the drums are established and the pinwheel runs of synth notes pop up. The eight-minute “Two Different Ways” erupts cathartically down the stretch, while the lightning “Fall Back” has the effect and shape of post-punk, yet technically is not.
Frontwoman Nik Colk Void’s vocals aren’t so much sung as they’re exhaled, slinky and opaque like a particularly narcotized Nico as heard from another room. She doesn’t aim to make these songs earworms (her intonations, conversely, seem just about entirely devoid of life on closer “Breathe In”), which is okay, as long as the throb beneath is moving swiftly. But sometimes, as on “Here Again”, it’s hard not to think of the lack of melody as a missed opportunity, especially considering how effectively Disclosure carried out a similar deep house sound with their AlunaGeorge-assisted “White Noise” earlier this year.
Much to its credit, Factory Floor is 53 minutes long but never lags, which is a pretty clear indicator that they’ve got their shit together, pacing-wise. The LP is at its most colorful when it’s at its most layered (see “Here Again”), and next time around, they’d do well to add dimension by way of juicier textures. For now, they’ve delivered a derivative LP that’s also, ultimately, very much theirs.
Essential Tracks: “Fall Back”, “How You Say”, and “Two Different Ways”