One of Perc Trax’s strongest points as a techno label has been their willingness to pay tribute to the legacy of industrial music, a genre that has shown its influence throughout their catalogue. Last year, the label commissioned outstanding remixes by Chris Carter (of Perc himself) and Richard H. Kirk (of Ekoplekz, who makes a strong case for the label’s appreciation of abstract electronics on his own), founding members of (respectively) Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, as well as a wealth of other projects. While those two may represent the ne plus ultra of first-wave industrial — not to mention being genreless pioneers in their own rights — their contributions haven’t stopped the label from seeking out other eclectic collaborators. Forward Strategy Group’s Labour Division EP1, released ahead of their debut album, finds some in the form of Factory Floor.
Fans of the duo’s bruising techno needn’t fret either, though, as EP1 works on several levels. “Labour Division” is a tightly controlled, aerobic opener, filtering a jackhammer effect over drum patterns that sound just slightly off. “Mandate” is more svelte, its stark drums underscoring a gritty, echoing melody that grows richly hypnotic in the second half. The beatless “A Greyed Out Life” signals a change to more experimental pastures. When producers throw an ambient piece in amongst dance tracks, it can often seem tacked-on, but “A Greyed Out Life” is coldly beautiful, and its Vangelis-style grandiosity is laced with a healthy dose of grain. The EP closes out with editions of the duo’s “Nihil Novi” (which doesn’t appear here in its original form) by Factory Floor and their most high-profile member, Nik Colk Void. The former replaces Forward Strategy Group’s gruff churn with upbuilding disco patterns, leaving its industrial touches to linger in the background. Void’s remix, on the other hand, is far less compromising, reducing the track to austere, muffled blots. It makes the least sense of anything here, but its crawling atmosphere, reminiscent of cult Japanese act Tolerance, stands out on the strength of its sheer weirdness. Its appearance alongside potential peak-time tracks is a testament to Perc Trax’s curatorial braveness.