18

The Cellar and Point: The Cellar and Point: Ambit

Paul Naser By

Sign in to view read count
The Cellar and Point: The Cellar and Point: Ambit 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.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "All The Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review All The Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "More Figs And Blue Things" CD/LP/Track Review More Figs And Blue Things
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Umbra" CD/LP/Track Review Umbra
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "The Declaration of Musical Independence" CD/LP/Track Review The Declaration of Musical Independence
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Expanding Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Expanding Heart
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Live In The South Bronx" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The South Bronx
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!