Minimalizm orkiestrowy i amerykański folk...Na swoim siódmym już studyjnym albumie "Pilgrim Road" Robert Fisher i jego Willard Grant Conspiracy udają się na pielgrzymkę. Oczywiście w przenośni, bo tutaj najbardziej brodaty jegomość na amerykańskiej scenie alternative-country i folk łączy raczej to co najlepsze z wszystkich religii w to, co dla niego jest religią: w muzykę. W pielgrzymce tej pomaga kilkunastu muzyków (min. Chris Eckman z Walkabouts) oraz chór "pielgrzymów". Instrumenty używane są jednak oszczędnie i tylko rzadko można się domyślić, jak wielu muzyków brało udział w nagraniu tej płyty.
"Pilgrim Road " jest wyznaniem wiary w gospel, folk, gitary i wiarą w to, że orkiestra może więcej niż bombastyczny pop. Wielu muzyków "poległo" na próbie nagrania albumu z orkiestrą. Tutaj minimalizm, redukcja i niedopowiedzenie tworzą piosenki pełne, kompletne i skończone. Piosenki wyszły spod pióra Roberta Fishera i aranżera Malcolma Lindsaya, do tego dodano 2 covery: Merka Eitzela ("Miracle On 8th Street") i Lala Watersona ("Phoebe").Głos Fishera, przypominający Nicka Cave'a z jego najlepszego okresu (15-20 lat temu) a czasam też Davida Bowie, fortepianowe partie przyprawiające o dreszcz, melancholijne, ale jednak pełne życia melodie każą nam nasłuchiwać każdego dźwięku i powracać z pielgrzymką do muzyki Willard Grant Conspiracy.
"During our 2003 tour we played a show at Glasgow's Barfly. It was a rough night. The kind of night on tour where it seems as though no one at the club had any idea that we were coming and had done nothing to make any of us feel any different right from the very beginning when there was no sound person available. For three hours after we arrived we waited for someone to answer the various calls being made to secure a soundperson. And when they finally found someone to do sound, he was obviously just beginning to take classes in basic sound reinforcement and, though perfectly willing to give it a try, had no idea how to deal with the odd assortment of acoustic and electric instruments let alone how to run his own board and PA! A few of our band members had to do double duty by taking over and trying to coax a sound into the room that wouldn't make us all run and hide. We had to hold the door while we tried our best to wrestle the room into submission and were glad we had when we discovered that there was a pretty full line up of people on the other side waiting for the show. We probably should have taped the controls at the board down during the set because it seems our well meaning sound student tried to "adjust" things as we played and, though the resulting moments of feedback and distortion threatened to derail everything, the band was in a good mood and by sheer energy, volume and more than a little frustration put on one of the best and most fiery shows of the tour.
After the set, I was standing at the side of the room doing my best to deflect the comments regarding the sound when I turned to find myself face to face with a slightly serious looking fellow with a good sized smile on his face who informed me in no short order that if I ever wanted to do something with strings or an orchestra, that he was willing to take the challenge on. How he heard that out of the set we'd just played, I will never know but that person was Malcolm Lindsay and in the next few years during many post gig evenings and a few emails we would hash out a plot to try to write some songs together that would use orchestral instruments along with our regular ones in an integral and organic way.
In 2006, we started passing ideas back and forth over the internet but it became clear to me that we needed the experience of being in the same room if this was going to work out the way I hoped. Before the start of the first duo tour in Europe in the fall of 2006, Malcolm freed up some of his time and hosted a lovely ten day period where we worked everyday for hours writing and recording as we went in his home studio. By the end of the ten days we had the better part of a record sketched out and after about 5 weeks of touring I returned to Glasgow with another couple of songs written on the road. The one that made the record was written in an Airport in Italy in transit from Zurich to Malta!
The songs on this record are the result of Malcolm and I following our collective and individual instincts, resulting in something neither of us would have arrived at wholly on our own. During the following 11months we would invite people from WGC and from the Glasgow music community to participate with their instruments either in Glasgow or from their home studios until we had all of the arrangements executed and ready for mixing.
In May of 2008, some five years after Malcolm first suggested working together, Pilgrim Road will be released. The May tour dates will include a ten piece version of the band, a sort of Pilgrim Orchestra to present the sound of the record. Because of the difficulty in organizing a tour with so many members of the band we will be doing a limited number of shows during the May tour. We hope that one of them will be near you!