Suspenseful work from a celebrated percussionist, if not altogether satisfying.
Jerry Granelli's 1313 is an unsettling affair wrought from singular percussive solos. It has a momentous feel in a regard that is bolstered by the fact that Granelli, a veteran innovator in the free jazz movement, never crafted a solo record before this one. The compositions might be called "studies", usually in rhythm, but sometimes the emphasis is on mere sound or, more favorably, the contrast between sounds of varying hues and textures. The opener, "Shih -- A Gathering of Energy (from Sun Tzu)" rumbles with increasing presence, like a slumbering giant disturbed from a nap before turning over and settling into comfortable breaths. "Mallets - Notes", like all of the record's eight tracks, is aptly described by the title -- mallets banging in an unverified pattern, almost haphazardly going about their noise-making. With such lack of forecast, the assortment of mallet noises succeeds in creating suspense. It is bold and dramatic, if not altogether pleasing to the ear. It is moody, and sometimes disconcerting.
Such aural discomfort might be the point, though, since the record shifts from the opening rumbles to the symphony percussive element in "Nice Guys", the final track. In between, we get "Metal - Hail - Nonstop", which mimics a continual barrage of ice pellets ticking, chipping, clanging, pinging and thudding against a variety of surfaces, mostly metal. More familiar arrangements arrive with track four, "Walking on a Road with Some Bells Around Your Neck", which sounds exactly the way the title says it does. There's a melody here, as well as in "Wait for the machine", but it feels hollow, thin and on the edge. Only the drum beats on 1313 sound full. Ultimately, these tracks might work well as sound effects, but fall short as satisfying compositions.