Factory Floor - 25 25 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Factory Floor - 25 25

by Sean Hewson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-08-19
Initially 25 25 was a disappointment to me. Factory Floor seemed to have lost the immediacy of their debut album. The hard, crisp, sounds and dynamics of Industrial Techno have been replaced by blank repetition and muddier sounds. It would have been easy to attribute this to them having lost a member (Dominic Butler) before recording 25 25. However, I respected Gabriel Gurnsey and Nik Colk Void enough to figure that they knew what they were doing and that any changes were intentional. So I tried again and again and, of course, it started opening up. What it revealed was a fascinating, if not always a pleasurable, listen.
I'm not sure if this was the intention but 25 25 really seems like an experiment in playing with the listeners' expectations and with the accepted formulae of techno music. Of course, one feeds into the other - in all forms of music we expect certain things to happen at certain times. On 25 25 song after song follows the same structure: A really basic, often just one note, sequenced pattern; a lot of pounding, kick drum; sounds and voices coming and going. So, as every song starts, you either think 'here we go again' or 'where are we going this time?'. And you're not always rewarded. What is also fascinating is that the hi-hat and snare, so essential to Techno music, are slowly introduced over the course of the whole album rather than over the course of one song, as has been the way in most Techno tracks. Also, the build-ups in the songs seem to get more obvious as the album goes on. It's like they've thrown the dynamics of Techno out of their songs and applied them instead to the album as a whole.
Stephan Morris once described Factory Floor as 'unsettling disco'. And it's not just unsettling because of the strange, disembodied sounds that come and go in their tracks, it's also unsettling because it doesn't do what you want it to do. This can be a risky policy as, for myself, I find some of the songs a bit long and the first two tracks, basically, annoy me. It's a very simple thing - if I like the sounds (as I do on 3/4 of this album) I'm more than happy to get lost in an eight minute orgy of repetition but, if I find the sounds irritating, I tend to get a bit grumpy. However, I do like what Factory Floor have done here - they're playing with perceptions, they're denying instant gratification and there are also some great songs here (especially Slow Listen, Ya and Upper Left). If you're hoping to be smashed in the face by a load of Industrial Techno, you're going to be disappointed. And that's probably the point. If, however,  you like to be tested by ideas, sounds and arrangements - some of which you might not like - you'll get a lot out of this album.