Various Artists – Festival of Failure: Sounds to Soothe a Nervous Robot

Various Artists
Festival of Failure: Sounds to Soothe a Nervous Robot

Okay. This is more of that super-experimental music with lots of blips, bops, noises, shrieks, wails, and wallops. My first impression of this album was about the production quality. While the inside of the CD cover tells you to keep things quiet so you can hear every minute change in the music, what you end up hearing on song one is a whole heap load of fuzz and background noise. That would be fine if there was a band playing or something, but on this song or “doodle,” it is just two instruments or so (if that) and maybe two tracks. Unlike some lo-fi albums, the fuzziness here is not endearing.
However, there are some decent moments on this somewhat psychedelic and chaotic compilation. Some of it would work as great sci-fi/thriller/horror music – maybe for something like Aliens or something. Now, you wouldn’t find me sitting around listening to the soundtrack to a sci-fi thriller, so I can say with confidence that you won’t ever run into me relaxing on the couch with a beer listening to this release. It just isn’t “listening” music; it is “watching music.” It needs a story. It needs action and lights and characters. As presented, this album lacks those details. It is too monotone and faceless. Perhaps after a mushroom cap or two, or maybe a little acid (I am not advocating drug use here – no really, I’m not) you might come up with an engaging story that might include a half-dressed Carrie Fisher and/or Sigourney Weaver, to go along with the odd sounds of this CD and play it in your head. (If I could promise this experience, this album would be selling by the bucketloads) But, alas, while the mix of drugs and this album might inspire those vagaries, unhappily there is no guarantee of it. The moral here is that this is not an album you can take home sober and enjoy.
Every once and a while the album has its moments, liked the warped piano sounds from Hekinah Degul. Even so, the band can drift into the silliness of super-Nintendo sounding blips and laser firing. One band on this album has vocals, and that is Butterfield 8 Project. Listen to the vocals closely, however, and you will understand why there is so little singing on this release. It just ain’t very good.
I will say that at least this album has the acorns to be different and not give a damn, which I like. It isn’t “trying.” These bands’ songs are simply what they are, and they don’t pretend to be overly pretentious. For that, I certainly give them credit. All the bands have to do now is write a script for the sci-fi thriller that goes along with this soundtrack.