Factories Have Got It Together!

I had heard murmurings about Factories for nearly a year. Their producer Jalipaz had mentioned them quite a bit, even though they are not a part of the Black Cactus roster, everyone from that crew talked very excitably about them. I had been told that Underwater Getdown was history, but not to worry, because Factories was even better.  It wasn’t until last May after about six months of hearing these whispers in the wind that I got to see the proof in the pudding for myself at Peachcake’s EP release party at the Rhythm Room. It was at that point that I understood immediately, Underwater Getdown was a memory, but Factories were here to stay and it was not only good, it was great, it was amazing and the sound this trio could make was nearly unfathomable.  Factories might recline in some minds as obscurity for playing rare shows in peculiar places, but for those who have seen them live and listened to their recordings, they are one of this town’s greatest treasures and if you think I’m overstating their case, you probably need to listen to their debut album Together and catch them at a live show immediately, because the murmurings were right.

Factories first emerged with their self-produced EP in late 2010 and throughout 2011, it’s three members, Bryan Marscovetra (Guitar/Vocals), Audra Marscovetra (Keyboards/Vocals) and Mike Duffy (Guitar/Keyboards/Beats) have appeared mysteriously at some of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen. Last month, for instance, they blew the roof off the house at Long Wong’s for a Black Cactus Records showcase with PAWL, Tremulants and Midnight Vitals. I have seen them many times and I always walk away impressed beyond all belief. Maybe it’s the way they work together so well, or the way their sound just melts faces instantly and wins over a hundred new fans or maybe it’s the way Audra dances like an old school punk while playing a keyboard—maybe it’s all of these things, but one thing is for sure on their new album they have seriously got it Together.

One of the things Factories has got together is that while, what they play could basically be called electronic, their sound goes well beyond any genre straitjacket.  The guitars are loud and crunchy, the keyboard  and drum machine are gritty and that’s how “Canada” opens the album. The first single from the album is a maelstrom of all that is Factories, amazing harmonic vocals, swirling instrumentation and soul reflecting poetic lyrics. After every time I hear it I wish I was on a plane  over Canada, staring at the bright white landscape staring back into myself.  “It’ll Be Alright” is brilliant pop, no matter how you swing it, the hook, the melody, the lyrics, then bathed in a dark electronic shroud—the sonic effect of which is simply stunning. This is something that could be covered in an instant by a guitar based band and made into an instant pop hit, knowing that the original will always be the best. Most electonica lacks lyrical brilliance, but  when I hear “I mean to be forgotten, no one to remember my face, just a part of something, a piece of time and space, need to make it work, I’m an animal deep inside, Come see my wild eyes and  feel my crooked fangs, I’m turning pages over, feels like it’s starting again, I’m going down so quickly, I’m going down, but it’ll be alright” I’m astounded by its brilliance and metaphorical complexity.

“Calypso” begins with yet more apocalyptic beats to astound the mind, but soon keyboarded rays of sunshine appear and once more Bryan’s vocals appear through the clouds urging you to “Keep yourself aware,” as though he is pleading his case for humanity. His vocal gymnastics truly shine in this song and when you get the chance to see this live it will simply blow your mind. This song has often been the dealmaker for the band when I’ve taken friends to their shows. The second video from the album (the first being the obvious “Canada”) is “Zonbi” which is one of the most compelling tracks on the album for the entirety of itself. From beginning to end the song grabs you, whether it is the relatively sweet, light noted intro, the dark nature of the lyrics, the intense guitar line or the catchy as hell sing-a-long  chorus.  This song is almost a summation of all of Factories strengths. It’s all great, but when Audra’s lyricless vocals explode two thirds in, the song becomes a whole different deal—more so when you see it performed in a storage trailer for the video. “Hey Kid” may well be my favorite song on the album, perhaps because it’s  one of the catchiest, but also because it’s a pretty rock’n’pop number that shows off just how well Bryan and Audra’s vocals work together. It’s catchy, it’s amazing and it’s a nice way  to end the first half of the album brilliantly.

The second half of the album opens up darkly, appropriately enough with “Couldn’t Be Darker”, which is a swirling hurricane of keyboards, guitars and ethereal vocals providing the backdrop to Bryan’s vocals which almost serve as more of an instrument here than anything else. “Kamikaze” begins with a hypnotic vocal loop and leads into one of their numbers with more pop inflections than the others and may prove to be hit worthy if promoted properly. “I think it’s barely worth repeating, I want to feel like I was dreaming, I don’t know anybody, I’m just flying solo, I can’t find anybody, I’m just flying solo,” are words worth their weight in gold and this song vies for “Hey Kid” as one of my favorite on my album. By this point you realize that this is a trio of musical geniuses hard at work creating uplifting pop rock in a dark room with minor keyed electronic weapons of mass instruction.

“Pressure” which I first heard live, is just as amazing on record—clap track and keyboard start it off, before Bryan comes in with his brilliant vocals, lyrics of dark regret, suffering and guilt. There a feverish heated feeling to this song which can only be described by its title. If any band has ever taken a noun and made it a song to its fullest extent, here it is, this IS pressure and amazingly so. Literarily, I’m pretty impressed, if this doesn’t appear in a movie soundtrack someday, it will be Hollywood that is missing out on a great opportunity.  Starting with the a pounding sound akin to a heartbeat “No One Knows” is yet another one of my absolute favorites on the album—this time though, although it is catchy, it is for the brilliant lyricism, the reflections of a friend lost in time and space during a life time moved on.  “No one knows where you’ve been…” This is something that happens to all of us, after a while, we have friends so close to us, that one day are no longer there and years later we wonder where they have gotten to, even if it’s true that “No one noticed me, but you.” Time passes, life moves on, and sometimes the separate directions we take will never meet again.

The finale of Together is the brilliantly “Safari” which starts sparsely with minimal backdrop behind ethereal vocals of such lines as “Now there’s no one sitting next to you anymore,” but soon the other elements kick in, the music builds, adding another instrument with each passing half minute, building—wrestling with the vocals for the attention. “We’re out of Control!” the music comes to its full astounding peak—this becomes an orchestra in modern sound, it becomes something that could incorporate a full chorus as they sing “We’re all in this together” and the music blazes like a wildfire, but slowly, ever slowly it subsides and reduces, instrument by instrument until it ends as it began.

Factories have produced one of the finest electronica albums ever, mostly because I don’t even think of it as electronica—and that’s the secret, that’s the brilliance behind it, clearly there are drum machines and keyboards behind every turn, there are synthesizers everywhere, but you listen to Together and you don’t walk away thinking I just listened to a great “electronica” album. You walk away thinking you were just granted permission to listen to a fantastic album that defies genre, because of the impression it makes in your psyche. It is every bit as much rock as it is pop as it is even industrial, as it is, yes, electronica.  When you walk away from Together, you simply walk away thinking, I just listened to a great album, because that’s what Factories Together is, an amazingly creative, cohesive album, that happens to be great.

Together will have it’s official release party on April 5th at the Crescent Ballroom, alongside an album release party for Ladylike’s debut album, both will  be joined by Chasing Kings.  Until then you’re just going to have to check out the website and watch the videos endlessly in anticipation. No matter what, I can guarantee that it’s going to be great.

Factories Official Website