Drowned In Sound 3 June 2010
Part way through a cigarette, I pause briefly outside The Empire and am instantly struck by the thought that I’ve turned up at the wrong venue. Muffled through several closed doors, there’s a throbbing sound emanating from the building, the effect of which is highly reminiscent of driving to an open-air rave; the music becoming tantalisingly clearer as the car passes through screens of trees and over the brow of hills. Entering the venue does nothing to dispel the illusion, as monstrous four-to-the-floor kick drums bludgeon the walls and bend the lenses of the eyes, whilst acid squelches ricochet between mercilessly mechanistic hi-hats. It’s like walking unprepared into a vast squat party, to the extent that I’m subconsciously surprised to see the kookily self-aware, fashionably shambolic audience in place of a bunch of dreadlocked, gurning ‘crusties’ accompanied by dogs on strings. This is a group called Factory Floor, and they appear to currently be smashing through London’s complacently trendy haircut-ridden factions with a sound which is ascetic and psychedelic in equal parts; on the strength of this performance they’re taking no prisoners.
As I head towards the front it’s fast becoming apparent that this isn’t a standard techno act either. As the kick drum fades, immense washes of sound spread tidally over the crowd, and suddenly we could be listening to Flying Saucer Attack or My Bloody Valentine. Heavily-processed Alan Vega-esque mumblings enter the mix coincident with an emergent acid line, and as the filter sweeps up to puncture through the intensifying guitar textures, I see that there’s a live drummer poised to begin. Subsonic sine waves build until they’re pummelling the speakers, and the drums begin to pound. The beats are razor sharp, and the sound of the kick drum is devastating in its attack and depth. The material recalls Jeff Mills’ early style on tracks such as Basic Human Design and Phase 4, except the swirling Juno sounds are replaced by abrasive art-punk guitar, waves of immersive synth texture and indistinct, delay-soaked vocals.
8 / 10