I’ve reviewed another of Justin Wiggan’s Roadside Picnic releases before, but it has little in common with Autistic Campaign’s big-box release of Failed Frankenstein, a five-track series of cut-up noise sounds with lots of warbling and texture throughout. To be honest, the actual theme of Roadside Picnic’s release escapes me to some extent, mostly because I can’t seem to find context to the references used on the second tape; but even without that meaning, the sounds themselves are a good representation of Roadside Picnic stitching together an amalgamation of noise parts into a patchwork whole.
The first tape’s A-side features the two title tracks, “Failed Frankenstein” and “Rectified Frankenstein.” “Failed Frankenstein” is the most difficult listen of either tape, a series of crackles, tape manipulations, and sounds that are abbreviated by pops and spaces in the track. It’s all held together fairly well, though it takes a couple of listens to see the appeal in Roadside Picnic’s Frankensteinian creation of utilizing different sound sources with lots of silence and stuttering in between. “Rectified Frankenstein” comes together with creature moans and some more static.
The other parts of Failed Frankenstein are slightly more walled in texture. “Paris 1953” starts, then cuts out for about 15 seconds before picking up with a heavy static crackle, opening up later in the track. The second tape, the two part “Egypt 1974,” is a series of glitchy feedback loops and circuitry squeals, varying slightly within the tracks but ultimately maintaining the segmented, splotchy texture that is perpetuated across this release. Roadside Picnic is emphasizing the use of pops, stutters, and glitches on Failed Frankenstein, and for the most part it works very well to draw attention to how interesting that sounds to the ears. “Part 2” does even more with the textured layering of sound, working in a shimmering feedback loop, extra-crackly static, and the occasional synth working through high octaves.
Failed Frankenstein is an interesting experiment, one that often works. The way Roadside Picnic has managed to create patterns out of his warbled patchy tracks is entertaining to say the least, and over the course of this two-tape release, the artist manages to come up with new techniques to make the method feel unique on each. Failed Frankenstein is a monster made up of different pieces, but they cohere into something that’s can’t be considered a failure.