Is there a mode (maybe mood, posture, or circumstance) in which you are required to set yourself in order to appreciate (maybe absorb) freely improvised music? If you are attending a live show, the location, smells, company, and certainly the visual aspects of the show contribute to your "experience." When you are merely listening to a purchased recording, what are the rules for your listening experience?
Do you meditate in a quiet room? Can you listen to it in your car? Walking with an iPod? Washing dishes? How does the experience of the improvisation mesh with your current environs? Don't ask me for answers, but consider all the stimuli that invade your senses every hour of every day. Maybe that's why the relentless beat-beat-beat of pop music is so simple... because no one's actually listening.
My point is this: no two listeners can have the same response to very highly interpretable music like what the Punctual Trio produces on Grammar.
The cast of players includes cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, the newest member of Vandermark 5 (plus Wilco, Terminal 4, The Boxhead Ensemble, Pillow, and the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet, to name just a few); Lou Mallozzi, a sound artist from Chicago who lists Mats Gustafsson, Jaap Blonk, Sebi Tramontana, Michael Zerang, and Guillermo Gregorio as collaborators; and Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro, who has partnered with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis, Leo Smith, Tom Cora, and Richard Teitelbaum.
Simple review: you cannot dance to this disc, but I give it a ten.
The trio benefits from its choice of instrumentation. Lonberg-Holm's cello, which is seemingly at home in a range of settings from jazz standards to rock to free music, mixes well with Zingaro's violin's scraping, plucking, single notes, and complex travels. They are attuned to silence and space, as on the opener, or odd pulse and song forms, as with "Punctuation. Mallozzi doesn't drown you with samples or electronics; he places them in the mix as if he were Treg Brown, the sound editor of 1950s Warner Brothers cartoons. If you listen closely to "Punctuation, you may find yourself actually embedded inside a cartoon.
But then again, your experience with these sounds will probably be nothing like mine.
Personnel: Lou Mallozzi: turntables, CDs, microphones, oscillator; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello;
Carlos Zingaro: violin.