Willard Grant Conspiracy fans may have waited some time for a new album, the last being “Paper Covers Stone” (2009), but ‘Ghost Republic’ is an exceptional release that more than makes up for the brief hiatus. The album is in many respects a reflection of the stable musical partnership between David Michael Curry and Robert Fisher who has been living in the high desert “The Devil’s Punchbowl” of his native California since 2006.
Curry’s viola plays a prominent and visual part in ‘Ghost Republic’ accenting Fisher’s words, giving the album a timeless feel…ghostly…beckoning tales from old miners of the desert long since turned to dust…articulating their sorrow, misery, hope and final breath.
Not surprisingly it was a search for ghosts and their tales that brought the album about. Fisher was asked by California based poet and artist Nicelle Davis to add a character to a book she conceived which would be made up of collaborative poems. The project was focused on Bodie – a ghost town high in the Sierras. “Closed and abandoned to time and elements, this once thriving mining town is now frozen as it stood when the gates were locked and the town was returned to the ground it rose from.”
On Davis’ website for the Bodie Project she describes it as “one of the loneliest places on Earth” adding “what a better place for poems to meet?” and “Ghosts are not so different from personae. For this reason, the poets of the Bodie Poetry Project have chosen to inhabit the voices of the past to better understand our world today. We are in search of what haunts us — we want to understand what refuses to lie quiet in a grave.”
The words that Fisher wrote began to sound like music which in turn led to the album concept. He had this to say about the origins:
“First there is living in the high desert. Lancaster. Quartz Hill. Littlerock. Pearblossom. A far flung corner of the county of Los Angeles. A place for the forgotten and for those the rest of the city wishes to forget. Land of the Joshua Trees. Land of the Rattlesnakes. The Mojave Green. An Outpost. The Devil’s Punchbowl. An inhospitable place that men have forced themselves upon in an uneasy truce between cheap land and great ambition. This land still has teeth and venom. The Border. Heading east, the next stop is Mojave, Death Valley or the Eastern Sierra Mountains where towns have names like Lone Pine and Independence. And the road negotiates with places like Convict Creek and Mono Lake. A road less travelled.”
The album has many poignant and moving moments, especially when watching the film (which you can below). It was made by Joy Camp’s Keven Kostelnik, with photos by Jason Hughes and Robert Fisher adds text throughout…the instrumental parts allowing you to ponder some words…whilst others overlap songs. The more you hear and read the more dream like it becomes. Ghostly echoes of love and loss, drinking and gambling, fear and conviction.
Any man who stands
on a place where others have
and plants his flag or marks his ground
has not yet learned the nature of his time on earth
or the method of his parting
we take no inventory with us when we leave
The arrangements are minimalist sounding, anything more would lose the atmosphere. The sparseness gives the songs that poetic edge as well as giving a strong visual feel of the high desert landscape, it’s beauty and isolation. It’s reminiscent of the solemn landscapes of Cormac McCarthy’s novels where the harsh landscapes are ingrained in the very souls of the people who inhabit them.
It’s beautiful, stark and a remarkable achievement in poetry and song.
Watch it in full below:
Album Stream via Deezer
Ghost Republic, the Record is available on Loose. Ghost Republic the Book, is being published by Ampersand.