Factory Floor – Trance Industrial
I had been reading solid raves for Factory Floor for some years now on The Quietus, so I kew enough about the group to know that they made the sort of Post-Punk music that I live for, even 35 years on. After the previous DFA Records band, The Crystal Ark, had left the stage, I had surmised that at this hour, I was not seeing Museum Of Love, and that the next band was probably Factory Floor. This proved a correct thesis. The London trio were officially the last act playing on Saturday night in the USCC Basement, so any revelers still standing at 2:00 a.m. had gravitated there.
The lineup was Gabriel Gurnsey on drums, Dominic Butler on modular synths, and Nik Colk Void on vocals and treated guitar. Ms. Void [?] had released an improvised album with Chris + Cosey the previous year, so when the show began, I was not shocked to hear what sounded like a kinder, and gentler Throbbing Gristle filling the basement with their metronomic, pulsating, hum. It was appropriate that this last band that I would see at Moogfest used modular synths, to create droning, slabs of sound that were driven by frantic acoustic drums with stabs of processed vocals, courtesy of Nik Colk Void. She uttered phrases into her sampler, and manipulated the now abstract vocals in the mix. She has a small, single octave keyboard to alter her samples with, and after uttering her sounds and playing the keys, she would dance along to the propulsive grind for a few bars at a time, which was fun to see. One doesn’t see too many artists dancing long to their own music.
Unfortunately, there was a sound snafu that left her guitar inaudible in the mix, which was very disappointing to me. That was because she was absolutely not using the guitar in a conventional manner. Instead, she was hitting the strings percussively with a drumstick, or occasionally playing them with a violin bow, but the end result was several million light years away from Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page schtick. The lack of guitar-realized sounds left the music a bit more machine-like than was their intention, but the remaining sound that was issuing was still impressive enough to give the rapturous effect of licking a light bulb socket in the “on” position. That’s the delight of modular synths! And with drummer Gurnsey playing full on for the entire set, the effect was still humanized. Fortunately, even though the live sound was affected by gremlins in regards to the guitar, the dreaded bass abuse didn’t happen here. Good thing too. With the grinding sound that Factory Floor proffered, killer bass would have been just that, and I would have had to leave.
When their set ended. it was nearly 3:00 a.m. and I made my way home. It still astounds me that I can be home in my bed in as little as 15 minutes after a gig in downtown Asheville. The next day would be the end of Moogfest for me with a debut screening of the “I Dream Of Wires” modular synth documentary. This would be the only way that I would see John Foxx at Moogfest, sadly. But my disappointment that it was going to come to an end after almost a week of music feasting was surprising, yet palpable. The fest had begun very well with a night of Pet Shop Boys before the rough spots on night two made me doubt that I had taken the right step by eve buying a ticket. Fortunately, the salvation that was delivered by YACHT gave me thrills that all but ensured that I would buy my ticket at the earliest possible chance for Moogfest 2015. And then the over the top sensation that was the Escort set on Saturday night made me thirst for more music of this caliber. At any cost. This had been a five day musical feast worth far more than the $200 ticket price that I had paid for. While the concert fracking sound had been enough to destroy several shows [and blow our Kraftwerk’s soundboard the first evening], the diversity of the groups presenting, and the sheer thrills delivered by the likes of YACHT and Escort lit my fires in a big way. The thought that there are more bands I never previously heard of who could possibly deliver the sort of impact that those two did fills me with a kind of awe.
The venues and crowds were exemplary with no hassles from either. Given that Asheville is a highly beer-centric city, there was no loutish behavior from any corners that I saw. I also enjoyed meeting a fellow refugee from the John Foxx forum, who has been driven from attending Lollapalooza due to “bro-festation” reported that she was looking forward to the next Moogfest. The end tallies placed the costs at around $3M with ticket sales at $2M, so it’s not necessarily a given that it will happen, but Moog Music did not hold Moogfest to strictly turn a profit; they sell hardware to achieve that end. It’s my hope that the benefits achieved in connecting artists, thinkers, engineers, and musicians with the fertile ground of Asheville gained enough traction so that this can happen again next year.
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