Copenhagen, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.
In the best of all possible worlds, I wouldn’t have to write this review. The city would have crammed into the smaller of the Vega siblings, and I could simply write the words “Factory Floor” and “East India Youth” for people to knowingly nod their heads and synchronise their inner bpm.
As it is, only the select few, the knowing or the fortunate, stick to the walls as Will Doyle, or East India Youth, poured waves of synth into the room. It feels like a scene from a film or tv, like Durutti Column playing in 24 Hour Party People, or even Julee Cruise stuck in that red bar in Twin Peaks. His set is constantly shimmering from one song to the next, full of brilliant melancholy and brash crescendos. Dom and Gabe from Factory Floor are listening in the middle of the room. “Pretty good, eh?”
Statistically, few of you readers will have seen him, so go buy Hostel, his latest EP, which as well as being a great record, also distinguishes itself for having been released by a strange new animal known as The Quietus Phonographic Corporation.
The yellow and blue glitch projections, as well programmes scattered around the place, are evidence of another in a long line of Factory Floor’s collaborations with visual artists. Tonight Dan Tombs is providing the sights, as part of CPH:DOX, the International Documentary Film Festival. In the middle of the oscillating images, the band begin the same way their record does, with “Turn It Up”, which in this case is a direct order to the sound man.
I often misuse the word hypnotic, applying more or less to anything vaguely repetitive or psychedelic, but Factory Floor definitely induce some sort of altered state. The volume is fantastic, and Dom’s short loops gain urgency as they slowly modulate, blending into Gabe’s drumming, which manages to add an afro-beat flavour to the post-punk and disco beats. Singer and guitarist Nik lays on heavily effected vocals, unintelligible words, and harsh guitar stabs. It sounds rather ridiculous when described, but the discord of a guitar hit with a drum stick is given some sort of structure by the bassline, so that I start to imagine chords where chords are impossible.
Though I’m able to recognise the main synth line or sample from most of the album tracks, we are hearing something entirely different. It’s not that song structures are substantially altered, or that the band is improvising on the themes, but rather that each song consists of certain elements that, when played live, are allowed the space to enter and exit as instinct dictates. This is a band that has spent years crafting these sounds, and is able to fit them together each night in a way that is always different, but always the same, to paraphrase John Peel. When I interviewed them, they talked about wanting to keep the human element in electronic music, and it is that mix of perfectionism and human error that creates a concert like no other.
So get on the next boat to Oslo and catch up with them, or pick up the album, but for god’s sake, do something.