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Three Songs No Flash

Factory Floor Live: Beyond The Industrial Production Line
Luke Turner , January 26th, 2010 12:15

Luke Turner sees Factory Floor crushing their former contemporaries in East London's post punk poser scenes beneath their post-industrial might

Live picture by Maria Jefferis/

"Triangle (n.): a closed plane figure having three sides and three angles."

Music as shape. Music as colour. Music as therapeutic, body shock, psychological trigger. Music that somehow becomes more than itself, that can transform one of East London's most indifferent venues (Cargo is aesthetic chaos in a brick railway arch: metallic pseudo-industrial trimmings with naff palm tree/bench smoking area confusion) into a claustrophobic den.

"One in the room... two in the room... three in the room..." intones Nik Void on Factory Floor's first blast, forthcoming single 'Lying'. People respond to the clanking clarion call of a brutalised arpeggiator, counted into Factory Floor's early evening shift. Hard labour awaits.

The triangle is sturdy. It cannot be overturned. This is what gives Factory Floor their power. Three members, toiling for the greater good but also with a curious sense of competitive oneupmanship. Gabriel Gurnsey is probably one of the hardest, most intense drummers going. He bobs behind his kit, sticks held in close to his body, a tight metronome unleashing impossibly mechanical patterns and fills. Yet he seems to be playing against the barrage of noise conjured up by the arpeggiator and table of synths and effects directed by Dom Butler. Nik Void doesn't play guitar as much as roundly abuse it with drumstick and violin bow, flashes of noise like lightning amidst the swirling clouds of electronics and rumbles of drums. When the three elements (equal parts Sonic Youth, Throbbing Gristle, trance) combine, it's all crescendo, crescendo, crescendo.

Factory Floor have come a long way since I first saw them on a hot Saturday afternoon at Notting Hill Arts club. Then, they were a three piece of more promise than most of the post-punk indebted groups coming out of East London at the time. Their songs dealt with model aeroplane clubs, two of the members looked like brother bruisers but weren't. They sported Donkey Jackets and a taciturn attitude that, visually, put them in a different bracket from the those who preened in Top Shop's tightest jeans. What set Factory Floor apart then, and makes them such a fearsome proposition now, is that it was abundantly clear that they're no mere fly by night outfit. Since that afternoon, they've shed a member and gained Nik Void, and honed the marque in the process. You can hear that in the precision and clarity of the delivery. Everything in its right place, the three isosceles slotting together to make a coherent whole that won't and can't be restrained by any conventional notion of a trio-as-band. This is why the Factory Floor moniker is so appropriate – this is an entity which makes demands of each member, to create an infernal, guttural machine that grinds inexorably forth and, at the end of the production line, emerges belching darkness.

Yet this is not purely alienating grind, no base sonic attack. Again, it's a three parts of thirty three and a third recurring: industrial yes, for the reasons mentioned above. But this is also deeply tribal, intuitive, natural. I'm not the first to assert that mechanised beats have much in common with the instinctive and hypnotic rhythms of primitive cultures, where music was a societal engine rather than our modern-day tool of commerce and fashion. There's a purity to this. And from that, the final third of Factory Floor is deeply human - this music induces euphoria along with the physical pain that has much of the audience reeling, open-mouthed. It's as close to hard dance music as any drums/guitar based group I've ever seen – so many fail to combine guitar noise and beats, but Factory Floor do it with a grimacing panache. They make XTRMTR-era Primal Scream sound like Shed 7.

There are three groups who I have seen live, totally sober, who have given me a physical sense of a high, a lightened brain and aerobic synapses: Throbbing Gristle at Heaven, Sunn O))) at Koko, and now Factory Floor. Approach their future output with fervent anticipation.