The sheer musicality of Fred Lonberg-Holm's cello playing cannot be denied. No matter how many free music projects he involves himself in, he cannot help but return to the notion of song as a player. On Terminal Valentine, Longberg-Holm teams with bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly, and performs a series of short to middle-length pieces that have song at their root, though they explore the margins of certain frameworks of harmony, lyric and time. "Three Note Song" sounds, in the beginning, as if it could have been part of the tribute to the late Fred Katz he put together in 2002. On "And You Smile," the feeling of the love song comes through not only in the head where the melody asserts itself, but also in the dancing snares of Rosaly and the interpolating bass of Roebke. "Shift of the Eye" begins with a bassline that is quickly extended into another mode by cellos and cymbals, rim shots and floor toms are whispered through the middle and bottom to create the feeling of narrative, though it is not quite sure one exists, and one will be hard-pressed to hear one at all in "Maybe It's Too Late," where dissonance becomes its mirror image. The free improvisation is rooted in blues and finds itself wishing for something to anchor itself to, but finds nothing there except a wonderfully circular rhythm. Any way you slice Terminal Valentine, it's a challenging recording; it is easy to listen to, indeed, even to be seduced by and lulled into submission, because of its gorgeous sound, but going under would mean missing half the fun in deciphering the codes. Recommended.