The Floor - Autonomy off/on

Reviewed by: Marina Stamboulieh

  I am so glad I dragged my tired self out last May to see The Floor perform in Vancouver with Radio Berlin. I have been listening to this EP constantly since then, and it is a gem - a beautiful, understated modern renaissance of the classic post-punk sound.

  The Floor are from Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada. Pulsating basslines that sound at times almost dub-inspired play beautifully off clipped, metronomic drum beats. The icy guitar lines weave in and out of the music with swelling, dreamy melodies, way-off-in-the-distance squalls and pointed stabs of sound. The keyboards are used for both lush atmosphere and melody. I am so grateful for the tasteful use of keyboards and 'vintage' keyboard voices on this EP (amidst today's tawdry '80's revivalists') . There is no trace of the post-hardcore penchant for whiny, overwrought vocals and cloying displays of technical virtuosity (gratuitous time signature changes, nonsensical stop-starts just for the sake of it etc..). This is an intelligent EP from start to finish. Matt Pahl's vocals are perfectly cold and detached.

  The first track, 'Drown Inside', is my favourite, and really deserves to be released as a single. All the musicians are really at their best here, Paul Arnusch's bass playing is prominent - melodic, full and reverberating against the drums. 'Impossible' is another track that shows off his excellent bass playing - I really like the moments where the bass is full, pulsing and slightly off-kilter. The delay-drenched guitar lines in this song are really nice as well. 'Noncom' is surely a respectful nod to New Order, and shows off drummer Dan Carlyle's ability to combine precise, machine-like drumming with the dense, dynamic sound of live drums . 'Automaton' is my least favourite track. It's not really a bad song, it just seems to me like a slightly contrived foray into The Faint's territory, which doesn't really grab me, and seems unnecessary since they do well with a guitar-based sound. Overall, though, the synths on this EP are subtle well thought-out and add a lush, atmospheric quality to the album.

  If a reviewer must provide reference points by drawing comparisons to other bands then here is the list: The classic sounds of Echo and the Bunnymen, Wire, Psychedelic Furs, House of Love, Chameleons UK, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Japan (editors note: I'd also tack on For Against, and Sad Lovers and Giants as well) with a heavy dose of the modern sensibilities of the Cold War and Turn Pale. Like the latter 2 bands, The Floor takes an intelligent, intellectual approach to the exercise of reconsidering and reworking the post-punk aesthetic in a modern context. An interest in historical and impending disasters, paranoia, and cold-war tension are always at play.

  You should track down this EP and support an excellent band that knows its history and has the intelligence and talent to move the great post-punk traditions forward. I have a feeling we can look forward to something really profound from them in the future.

Matt Pahl - Guitar/Vocals
Dan Carlyle - Drums
Paul Arnusch - Bass
Graham Lessard - Synths/Guitar