Cracked Song is squarely in the free jazz idiom, each tune an open discovery of sound, rhythm and musical collaboration. With the exception of "Julia," the songs often lack a melodic center, yet there is some use of motifs that keep the tunes distinct from one another. Even so, the transitions from one track to the next are subtle. For example, percussionist Shlomo ends "Nechodi Bird" with some rapid, light tapping sounds that fade right into more metallic percussion at the start of the next tune, "City Tail".
The opening track, "Still," initially suggests more conventional form. There is a haunting, classical melody line on Mesner's cello along with some harmonic seasoning with chords on Bukelman's guitar. But Mesner then starts to take us on a freer journey with a few screeches, staccato statements and dissonance, while Shlomo's percussion picks up energy and Bukelman strums and plucks on acoustic guitar in the background. When Bukelman steps up into the solo role he initially returns a sense of calm harmony before he takes the band off again into a more fragmented landscape. "Still" wraps up with a brief recap of the opening melody. It is illustrative of many of the tunes, where we catch glimpses of harmony and form, giving us touchstones of familiarity before we fly off again into dissonance or frenzy or both.
Sometimes the structure and chaos are superimposed, as in the latter part of the tune "City Tail". Shlomo, at a little past five minutes into the seven and a-half minute song, suddenly picks up a steady rock beat and sustains it to the end. But on top of that, Bukelman is playing his electric guitar like he's offering audio interference to Shlomo's rhythmic persistence.
Shlomo's percussion is in fact one of the most compelling aspects of this record. He is all over his kit, splashing and clicking and ticking and thumping and rattling, sometimes with clear timing and patterns, sometimes just adding percussive color, and other times just flailing about even though he always remains purposeful and very, very clean. There are moments where his ability to produce what we hear with only his two hands and feet is shrouded in mystery.
Surprisingly the record closes with the old Beatles ballad "Julia" from their famous White Album. It is pretty and sparse, with just a few plucked notes and chords by Bukelman that add some extra-harmonic tension here and there, reminding us we are still listening to a free jazz record.
Cracked Song is a very interesting record that mixes several musical ideas together: classical, post-bop, and rock themes woven with both acoustic and electronic threads.