Exposé Online banner

The Cellar and Point — Ambit
(Cuneiform Rune 376, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-01-10

Ambit Cover artThis New York ensemble features seven regular members along with a number of guests, and the music is suitably rich and varied, with masterful arrangments of both original pieces and compositions by György Ligeti and Anton Webern. That should give listeners an idea where this group is coming from — no emulation of Romantic-era schlock for these guys. The original compositions are the work of co-founders Joseph Branciforte (drums) and Christopher Botta (guitars), both individually and in collaboration, and while there are echoes of previous chamber rock like Univers Zero, there's also a hint of jazz that brings to mind John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet. This latter is due in part to the prominence of Joe Bergen's vibraphone in the music, but there is a like-minded approach to melody and arrangement as well. Violin and cello (Christopher Otto and Kevin McFarland, respectively) enhance the chamber-like feel, and Rufus Philpot's bass, in conjunction with Branciforte's drums, provide touches of rock energy without adhering to rock conventions. The occasional augmentations of the core line-up include banjo, keyboards, melodica, contrabass, and viola provide some additional color but don't alter the overall sound greatly. There are also some electronic touches like loops, backwards shimmers, and so on. Ambit is nothing if not an ambitious entry into the RIO/chamber world, amazingly well conceived and executed — hardly what would be expected from a debut album. Absolutely one of the finest releases of 2014, and sure to join the ranks of the best chamber rock of all time.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): The Cellar and Point

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Paul Rucker & Hans Teuber - History of an Apology & Oil – Like Nels and Alex Cline, Satoko Fujii, and even Henry Threadgill (all with their various ensembles), Paul Rucker produces music that is usually referred to as jazz, but has such far-ranging elements...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues