For this recording, Scotsman Richard Youngs brings a mixture of emotive balladry and avant-garde sound collage to the fore. Guitar feedback and distorted synthesizer drones introduce the album, suggesting it may be tough going, especially given that their is a high-pitch tone that could shatter windows cutting through the mix. The largely instrumental album switches down a gear from the courageous experiments that see clock chimes, Casios, and electric guitars interweaved, and the drones give way to the lilting ballad "Sea Is Madness" -- which has a heartbreaking refrain that resonates with the same desperation as Robert Wyatt performing "At Last I Am Free." This closing track could easily bring one to tears if it weren't so distractingly intricate with its minimalist phasing effects. Wondering if Youngs could top this monumental achievement, he subsequently explored this reduced song style further on the album Saphie and floored his fans with his ability to write heart-wrenching ballads as well as being a super-sonic noise architect. Festival is certainly a standout in his expansive catalog. Coming as it does on Table of the Elements, one could only expect a genre-defying exploration.
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AllMusic Review by Dean McFarlane