To celebrate their critically acclaimed new album 25 25, Factory Floor returned to the stage in their usual man powered machine guise. Playing a swelteringly hot furnace flaming sold-out show at London’s ICA on Thursday, 25th August (the warmest day on record so far). They were greeted by an excitable yet deliriously, sweat drenched audience.
Back in 2012, Factory Floor commenced a year-long residency as ICA Associates, which manifested as a series of live collaborations that featured New York composer Peter Gordon, visual artist Hannah Sawtell, and British soundtrack producer Simon Fisher Turner. The events sought to challenge the boundaries between collaboration and live improvisation. Nor could they choose more suitable surroundings than London’s ICA, considering their over-riding influencers Throbbing Gristle (who they also supported at Cosey Club back in 2011) formed there in 1975.
Last month marked a return to form as Nik Void and Gabriel Gurnsey recently premiered material from their latest hi-energy minimalist dance exploration live at the iconic venue again. Given Factory Floor were attempting to recreate this constant motion with the audience, the unbearably hot conditions made it far from ideal conditions to watch but they braved it well despite this.
The event also included special live performances from British visual artist Haroon Mirza, whose internationally acclaimed installations examine the interplay between light and sound. He was joined by Swedish artist Klara Lewis, who’s disorientating arrangements of field recordings combine with textured rhythms to great effect. John Doran (Outernational / The Quietus) also DJed to keep the bodies swaying in the subterranean temperatures.
The return of the drums was a welcome surprise, as Gurnsey freakishly mimicked the relentless, machine driven punches of 25 25 so god damn precisely.
Dial Me In’s frantic cymbal clashes, captured New Order break loops and synth lines succinctly. The distorted tones of “Sad face,” and “Awkward,” can be heard as the basic artificial personas of text speak in our social media age, are dissected and laid bare in a starkly objective fashion. Also at the same time giving a sly nod to Joy Division’s ‘Auto-Suggestion’ that Curtis would certainly approve of.
In keeping with the aesthetic of 25 25, the performance is stripped back to basics with a thudding live drum set, fragmented synths and motorised guitar. There were no visuals to speak of or the all too precursory rock’n’roll ‘banter’ in between songs. Just the same pulsating beat resounding throughout the album as ‘Dial Me In’ steam trained full speed ahead into ‘Ya’ to great physical reactions from the audience.
Factory Floor discussed how 25 25 evolved from a simple, and raw desire to recreate the atmosphere of their live shows. Channelling cold wave, EBM and dark pop sounds this was a winning formula for a feverish warehouse style gathering, as the songs fit ideally in this kind of environment: repetitively industrial, hypnotic and makes for a hot mess.
The performance of 25 25 perfectly captured the next stage of evolution for one of the UK’s most restless and exploratory groups at the top of their game and definitely our hotly tipped ones to watch live!
25 25 is available to buy now via DFA.
Words by Natalie Wardle.