Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

18

The Cellar and Point: The Cellar and Point: Ambit

Paul Naser By

Sign in to view read count
The unique atmosphere of The Cellar and Point's newest record Ambit (Cuneiform, 2014) is difficult to pin down in words, let alone to classify as a particular genre. Drummer Joe Branciforte and guitarist Chris Botta's brainchild, the result of years of absorbing influences as diverse as the Wu Tang Clan and Anton Webern, is an intriguing mix of contemporary straight-eighth, mixed-meter grooves and textural, atmospheric harmonies and accompaniment, with some electric guitar mixed in for good measure.

Branciforte and Botta describe their one of a kind compositions and arrangements as "garage chamber music," which is about as perfect a description as can be given to their sound. Reminiscent of both Kneebody and some indie rock outfits along the lines of Sufjan Stevens, whom the artists credit as an inspiration, they cover a lot of ground.

Branciforte, who has worked as an engineer for Ben Monder, Tim Berne, Vijay Iyer and Nels Cline, took on role of producer for the record while co-producing it with Botta. The impressive list of artists Branciforte has worked with reveals where the unique production values that are one of the album's most identifying and intriguing elements come from; with electronic beats and effects introducing and highlighting important moments in the compositions, it's obvious that Branciforte is well acquainted with the nuances of the recording studio.

All technical talk aside, the seven original compositions on the album are just as compelling as the arrangements and production. Combining elements of contemporary songwriters like the aforementioned Stevens with the challenging harmonies of modern jazz or the second Viennese school while exploring challenging mixed meter rhythms, these songs are not for the faint of heart. The often very dense textures combine with moments of tense dissonance to make for some pretty heavy music without relying on effects to achieve their goal. These moments of tension also make the contrast and resolution very effective when they open up and mellow out. "Purple Octagon" is a good example of this. Their arrangements are just as compelling. Making music such as Webern's "funf canons i, op. 16" work with a completely different instrumentation is a feat in itself, and the two accomplish it beautifully.

From one song to the next, and sometimes between the beginning and end of a single song, Ambit takes the listener on a journey through texture, timbre and time. It is a challenging and fascinating effort by two talented up-and-comers.

Track Listing: 0852; Arc; Tabletop (a); Tabletop (b); Ruminant; Purple Octagon; Fünf Canons I, op. 16; étude xv; White Cylinder (a); White Cylinder (b); Ambit.

Personnel: Chris Botta: Guitar; Joe Branciforte: Drums; Terrance McManus: Guitar; Christopher Otto: Violin; Jack McFarland: Cello; Joe Bergen: vibraphone; Rufus Philpot: Bass.

Title: The Cellar and Point: Ambit | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Pekka" CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "The Imperfect Sea" CD/LP/Track Review The Imperfect Sea
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 6, 2017
Read "Blueberry Ash" CD/LP/Track Review Blueberry Ash
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "Infra" CD/LP/Track Review Infra
by John Eyles
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 17, 2017