Factory Floor first started as industrial post-ravers circa 2005. Their debut physical release in 2010 of ‘Lying’/’A Wooden Box’ was as post-punk and noise-influenced as it was the soundtrack to a scuzzy warehouse rave. Repetition, a sense of disembodiment and industrial disco were key characteristics/signifiers.
The trio’s live show has remained steadfast visceral in its execution. I’ve seen four Factory Floor live shows since 2010 and on each one, the band seemed to be in different headspaces even when using the same palette. Last weekend at Electric Picnic, a week before the album came out, they were methodical, robotic, electronic and filled with an elongated pulse that when it ended the festival air felt like it was missing something.
The protracted wait for a debut has seen a few single releases and a few collaborations live or otherwise with Peter Gordon, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti. The last thing released before this album related to the band, a Girls Names remix by member Gabe Gurnsey was stark in its minimalism and it is that stripped-back sound which informs their DFA Records long-playing debut.
On this self-titled album, Factory Floor have ditched the punk guitar tones that likened them to Joy Division for some and have delved further into the dancefloor: albeit an avant garde sinister one now more closely resembling ’80s electro than post-punk.
The 10 tracks here brim with a metronomic pulse. Minimal is its modus operandi, even more than on previous releases. Arpeggiated synthesizers collide with automated machine-like human percussion and disembodied vocals provide the colour. That’s the monochrome template here in rising degrees of intensity.
What’s impressive is the band’s continuous ability to hypnotise with such restrictions. There is serious dynamic heft in tunes like ‘Fall Back’ and ‘Two Different Ways’, both previously released and they slot right in here.
‘How You Say’ synths sound thoroughly mechanical when combined with the 808 drum hits which also form the basis for jarringly ultra stripped-back opening track ‘Turn It Up’. ‘Here Again’ teases its techno arpeggio with long passages before the low-end drops into dancefloor grooves once more. ‘Work Out’ is more Man Parrish or Model 500 than Manchester musical history.
It might not be the art-house crossover that Factory Floor looked capable of making at one time but the band’s analogue dystopian disco still packs a big progressive punch if you let it engulf you.