Factory Floor: '25 25' album review
In this era of flatulent and flabby EDM, it’s refreshing to hear a record like ‘25 25’. One that’s tight and challenging and knows its dance music history. One that will appeal equally to aficionados of experimental electronic music and the 6am Sunday morning club crowd. It’s Factory Floor’s second album and it’s their best.
As a band, Factory Floor have always felt different. They’re not part of any of-the-moment scene. Rather, members Nik Void and Gabe Gurnsey prefer to hang out with bastions of the Northern electronic avant-garde such as Throbbing Gristle’s Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, and New Order’s Stephen Morris. In London, where they used to be based, they chose a warehouse in scruffy Seven Sisters for their endless experimental synth sessions; refusing point blank to engage with east London’s trendiness.
In the course of making ‘25 25’, the threesome became a twosome (Dominic Butler quit) and Void and Gurnsey dispersed, finishing the record from Norfolk and LA respectively. The result is something harrowingly stripped-back: eight tracks of intense four-to-the-floor drum kicks, skittering snares and buried, half-heard vocals.
Opener ‘Meet Me At The End’ is a take-no-prisoners acid house track, carried along by a murmured line: “Work, work, work…”. It’s like listening to Rihanna while on a bad trip.
‘Relay’ practically threatens you to dance to it, with its sarcastically off-kilter synths. ‘Ya’ is the album highlight and the closest thing to a single. It almost, almost, has a verse, even if it is just the word “ya” repeated over and over.
There is, under everything, a purpose to ‘25 25’ that goes beyond giving clubgoers some of the best squelchy house tracks they’ve squirmed to since the heyday of Chicago pioneer Larry Heard. All its synth stabs and nonchalant lyrics feel like a great big “f**k you” and show off that same punky sense of nihilism as the forebears of the English electronic music scene.
Some tracks will have you dancing; some simply stomping your feet in determined anger. Refusing to accept the status quo is what Factory Floor have done throughout their career. And right now, that feels like just the right idea.