Willard Grant Conspiracy / Telefunk
Although this is the 8th release in the series, the In The Fishtank series has somehow managed to keep sort of a low profile still. The idea behind it all is that Konkurrent invites artists to record roughly 25-30 minutes of material for a nice little EP-length release. The material can be funny, serious, original, or basically whatever. Past groups have included June of 44, Low and Dirty Three, Tortoise And The Ex, and several others. Teaming up on this newest release is two seemingly disparate groups, but once again it comes together more or less.
In one corner is the alt country Willard Grant Conspiracy, and teaming up with them for the release is the Dutch electronic duo Telefunk. Certainly sounding like a possible recipe for disaster, the two weave their respective sounds together in subtle enough ways that fans of either artist will probably find things to enjoy. Another interesting facet of the this release is that all but one of the songs are 100 year old (or more) traditional songs that have been re-arranged.
"Twistification" opens the disc, and the presense of Telefunk isn't noticed at all. WGC lead singer Robert Fisher croons over weepy strings, picked banjo, and an upright bass. "Cuckoo" follows up with a more noticible addition of Telefunk, lumbering along with a trip-hop sounding beat as the upright again twangs away over it. Simone Pieters-Holsbeek of Telefunk adds light female vocals that offset the rich baritone of Fisher and it makes for one of the best tracks on the disc.
Telefunk makes themselves known on "Grün, Grün" and "Just A Little Rain" even more, adding a rather rollicking beat to the former (as well as more vocals by Pieters-Holsbeek, this time in German) and nearly all production and vocals on the latter. Fans of WGC have no fear, though, as the rendition of "Near The Cross" is a haunting masterpiece, with Fisher's vocals backed with only piano, strings, and subtle electronic tones for backing. The disc closes out with the longest track on the release in "Dig A Hole In The Meadow," a lumbering front-porch alt-country track nicely augmented with a quiet backing rhythm.
In the end, it's an interesting release in the series, as well as a nice addition to the catalogue of either artist involved. While some fans of the Willard Grant Conspiracy may be a bit turned off by the electronic beats, most of the time (except on the upbeat "Grün, Grün") Telefunk has added to the tracks in a subtle enough way that you won't have bad echoes of the Rednex (the horrible dance/country hybrid "Cotton-Eyed Joe") running through your head after hearing it. Instead, (and this could partially be because the groups rehearsed before entering the studio, a first for the series), the release feels fairly polished as each side adds their parts to the mix. Inconsistent, but with interesting moments, it's another release in the series that seems to have more potential before you hear the final output.