3 hole PUNCH

How Do You Like My Cat?

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Despite the work of Bill Laswell (and the lasting influence of Miles Davis' electric period), as well as angular, post-punk funk assimilators such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus, funk as a viable commercial and artistic outlet seems to have been an anomaly of the '70s, for the most part. That does not, however, mean that it died in that era. 3 hole PUNCH take their cues from '70s horn-filled funk and fusion standard-bearers such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Weather Report. Most of the band's members are jazz-trained, so the tensive fluidity and open song structures of improvisation are primary characteristics of How Do You Like My Cat? But this is not straight-ahead jazz by any means. The first evidence that 3 hole PUNCH could play incendiary straight jazz if they wanted to is on the group's wonderful arrangement of Wayne Shorter's "Bigfoot," on which the guitars shimmer and Bill Bousfield's tenor sax wafts over the opening raindrop pats of Rich Maslach's snare. The only other elements of jazz are the band's closing cover of Davis' "Prelude, Pt. 2: The Sequel" and a sort of grimier and edgier (and louder) version of acid jazz, "Back to Betelgeuse," which offers plenty of room for improvisation. From the opening whirlwind of "Each Yer Spinach" and the heavy, portentous "Long Term Memory Gain" on, though, the main stylistic touchstone is fiery, progressive funk of a consistently high caliber with dual guitars coming to the front in all flavors, whether wah-wah'd or with the synth-like textures of "Deep Six." The band is not afraid to challenge: "Dixieland Mahavishnu" is melodically obscure -- the "Dixieland" aspect of the song does not assert itself strongly, but there is an Indian influence carried not only in the skewed chords that bolster the song but by Bousfield's saxophone, which progresses in a sort of Middle Eastern, sitar-like fashion. Despite the title's obtuseness, it is an ambitious and rewarding song. And with five of the seven songs coming from the bandmembers themselves (co-leader Jeffrey Normal wrote or co-wrote three), 3 hole PUNCH are a self-contained aggregation.

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