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

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more

2018-01-05
Ray Thomas RIP – On Thursday, 4 January 2017, the world lost Ray Thomas, founding member of the Moody Blues. Thomas sang and played flute, and was responsible for writing a number of the band's most memorable songs. He was 76. » Read more

2017-12-22
Roswell Rudd RIP – Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, one of the distinctive players of his instrument in many strains of music, has died at the age of 82. With a career stretching back to the early 60s and over a hundred recordings featuring his playing, he leaves behind a substantial legacy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Renaissance - Novella & A Song for All Seasons – The history of Renaissance is much too convoluted to go into in a review, but it’s safe to say that these two albums were the end of the “classic” period of the “classic”...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues