Factory Floor: 25 25
Sophomore album blends minimalism with after-hours drama
Calling back to a time when electronic music as a concept was resolutely of the underground, Londoners Factory Floor once again do very little new but everything right. The follow-up to their self-titled debut is, if anything, more starkly minimal and anonymous-sounding than its predecessor, but that's to its advantage. The band are a duo now, with Nik Void and Gabriel Gurnsey carrying on after the departure of Dominic Butler, yet there's no suggestion that this music is anything but an evolutionary process from what's gone before.
It opens with 'Meet Me at the End', a track which – in title and intent – reflects the pair's assertion that this album is inspired by the time after hours, by the club dancefloors they have become used to playing for. The track begins with a looping, squelchy acid groove, building up with a sparse beat, a loose drum machine snap and Void's indistinct, electronically cut-up vocal. It sounds wonderful, at once dramatic and primed with purpose. It's a sonic sensibility which is explored further across the mere eight tracks (all of them lengthy) which comprise the record. 'Relay' is dense with the simplest rhythm set against chimes which reverberate like steel pipes clattering together and, once again, Void's smoky, chewed-bubblegum vocal.
It's the presence of Void throughout which both humanises the record and lends it a sense of distance. The beats are fierce but impersonal, particularly on the title track, primed for a breakdown which never actually arrives, and on the pulsing house groove of 'Dial Me In'; she floats in the background, heavily treated, like a series of brief text messages given voice. It's a trick which Gurnsey also pulls on the rough, Euro-sounding 'Ya', while there are hints of Detroit techno in 'Wave' and contemporary Berlin in 'Upper Left'.
Their previous work with Chris & Cosey of Throbbing Gristle has seen them hung with the tag 'post-industrial', and there's truth in that, in the fact they mirror the sparse clatter of information services rather than the clang of the factories recreated by 1970s industrial. But musically, this is as intelligent, emotive techno as you're likely to find in 2016, pure and simple.
25 25 is out now on DFA Records.