factoryfloor

It’s hard to believe that this is Factory Floor’s debut album, given the length of time they’ve been a buzz band. When they first started making waves, and aggressive whitenoise-spattered techno, in 2009, their contemporaries in the ones-to-watch columns were the likes of Cymbals Eat Guitars and some South London no-hopers called The xx – lest that not demonstrate that four years is probably enough time both to make and break a band. However, Factory Floor’s tectonic pace of development seems to suit them. Theirs is clearly a progress of the slow, robust evolutionary sort rather than the explode-and-burn-out, and their record has similar traits.

Just as four years represents several geological eras in pop music, much about Factory Floor’s output has mutated considerably since the original burst of excitement that greeted their first couple of EPs and all-out-assault live performances. Most notably, they’ve ditched one of their most defining trademarks: the feral squeal and the fuzzed-out density of tracks like ‘Wooden Box’ is totally absent here; in its place a move into broadly, heavily textured minimal techno, with all the roominess and precision that implies. Indeed, there’s so much space on opener ‘Turn It Up’ – the track consists of a wonderfully sparse, polyrhythmic drum pattern, an occasional, one-note 303 line and sporadic treated vocals – that you wonder initially if something’s dropped off the mix somewhere. While the rest of the album’s cuts fill out a little – ‘Two Different Ways’ and ‘Here Again’ both let their arpeggiated synths flourish naturally over the course of their eight minutes – the watchwords here are pristine cleanliness and a towering, stainless steel confidence.

What’s been lost in the form of the early raw chaos, though, is made up for elsewhere and, given its atomic flawlessness, it’s a tribute to the band that the album remains so addictively tactile. Drum programs lurch in and out of sync with each other, pulling you further into the music as they mesh, disconcerting pitched-down vocals offer a woozy detachment to each track and three deft interludes – the second of which featuring the album’s only splash of guitar – add a pleasing variety of aural texture and pace.

The result has all the riveting, almost myth-generating anonymity of a masked illusionist, managing to grow stronger and more compelling throughout its running time while maintaining a lightness of touch that’s equally odd and admirable. For their first trick, it would seem, Factory Floor have pulled off a vanishing act so convincing that you can only stand and admire the empty space that they’ve left.

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