Willard Grant Conspiracy

Willard Grant Conspiracy isn't so much a band as a concept, a swirling torrent of sounds and observations from the mind of its sole mainstay, singer and songwriter Robert Fisher. Having relocated from Boston to the fringes of the Mojave Desert, Fisher drew on the mysticism that surrounds this retreat from California's suburban sprawl to sketch a series of mournful folk-Gothic ruminations, or what he describes as "a meditation on mortality." Sad, somber, sobering, it's more Sunday morning than Saturday night, brooding and yet compelling in some inexplicable way.

Regard the End unfolds as a cerebral sojourn of lo-fi proportions. An eleven-song album that weaves traditional numbers with Fisher originals, its haunting melancholia brings to mind Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and Johnny Cash's final song cycle in its depictions of desolation and despair. Though it's hardly the kind of thing you'd play when the gang's over for cocktails, the iridescent glow that illuminates "Beyond the Shore," "Soft Hand," and "Fare Thee Well" does bode well for a more metaphysical encounter.

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Lee Zimmerman