Jerry Granelli reunites with guitarist Christian Kögel and picks up guitarist David Tronzo and bass player Anthony Cox for the V16 Project. However, the music this band makes is markedly different than Granelli's past two guitar, bass and drum lineups (News From the Street, Broken Circle). First off, Granelli has a hybrid electro-acoustic drum kit now, and Kögel and Tronzo are both armed with samplers (mostly for looping purposes, not sound effects) and the results are astounding. In the liner notes, Granelli claims that "this music is based on three vehicles: spontaneous composition, pre-composed pieces, and sonic adventure." There's something to be said for truth in advertising. The album starts with the only composition from outside the band, the old standard "Temptation." Acoustic and electric guitars are introduced, looped, and layered until they sound like a virtual swarm as the tune kicks into high gear. The band works extremely well together: Cox is generally the anchor, with Granelli supplying rhythm and extra "sonic adventure" through his electronic percussion. Kögel and Tronzo are basically free to indulge themselves on all manner of guitar (electric, acoustic, slide, wah-wah, fuzz), and have sufficiently different playing styles that don't interfere with each other. After the first three composed pieces, it's time for Granelli to sit out for a few improvised pieces, then rejoin for some more "spontaneous composition." In the hands of these musicians, spontaneous composition is not exactly the same as free improvisation, as there is both a strong rhythmic and melodic element present in all these tunes, and each player is a consummate listener. The tunes range from quite intense, "Temptation" and "Black Confederacy," to the beautiful and lyrical "Family Man," which features some fantastic slide work from Tronzo. Adventurous listeners and avant-guitar fans should definitely check out the V16 Project.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard