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Album Review

This volume in Amsterdam label Konkurrent's intriguing collaborations series, where two seemingly disparate bands who admire each other get into a studio together and make an EP. This time out its American East Coast folk and country buffs the Willard Grant Conspiracy and Dutch electronica unit Telefunk. The connection is that the WSG frontman, Robert Fischer, had produced the work of a legendary Dutch band called Cords, which counted among their members two of Telefunk's. Given how divergent the two band's approaches to making music was, they broke precedent and rehearsed before the session. The material is traditional, including the "Cuckoo Bird," an old Lutheran hymn called "Near the Cross," Malvina Reynolds' "Just a Little Rain," and three others, including an ancient German sing-along number. Despite the obvious reasons why something like this wouldn't work, it did, the WSG and their slow, loping folk/country groove melted perfectly into the deep well drum machines, the trip-hoppy backing vocals, and fat, rolling basslines of Telefunk. "Cuckoo Bird," in particular, with it's male and female vocals telling two different stories, whining violin, and plectrum banjo solo hypnotically playing through the middle makes the original lyrics even more confounding and the dimension of grooves and textures makes for an absolutely mystifying listening experience. The electric guitar bite in "Grün, Grün" is droopy and righteous against the shimmering, skinny drum machine workout, creating a pulse for the two vocalists to move together, one in German, one in English, and turn both their voices into extra instruments. Whatever misgivings you may have about this collaboration, suspend your disbelief until you actually hear this disc, because its sound is beyond all your preconceptions. In a series filled with great records, this ups the ante even more.


Formed: 1995 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Loose-knit folk-noir confederation the Willard Grant Conspiracy was formed in Boston in 1995 by singer Robert Fisher and guitarist Paul Austin, longtime collaborators who previously teamed in the noise-rock outfit the Flower Tamers. Asked to test-drive a friend's new home recording studio, the duo recruited guitarist Sean O'Brien and within days completed work on the debut Willard Grant Conspiracy record, 3 AM Sunday at Fortune Otto's, issued on Fisher's own Dahlia Records imprint in 1996. From there...
Full Bio
In the Fishtank 8, Willard Grant Conspiracy
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