Thursday, October 16, 2014

CUNEIFORM NIGHT IN BOSTON: 10/17/14 w/ Birdsongs of the Mesozoic & The Cellar and Point

Friday, October 17, 2014
at Johnny D's Uptown
an evening of Chamber Rock / 'Garage Chamber'
by Cuneiform artists:


Cuneiform Records is very excited to announce the second in a series of three concerts along the US East Coast celebrating the record label's 30th anniversary. Cuneiform Night in Boston will take place on Friday, Oct. 17th, at Johnny D's on Davis Square in Somerville, MA. The show will feature chamber-rock collective Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (Boston) and the orchestral experimental "garage-chamber" music of The Cellar and Point (NYC).

Cuneiform Night in Boston will include Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, one of the longest-standing Chamber Rock ensembles in the US and one of the first bands that Cuneiform signed. Cuneiform's first Birdsongs release was 1989's Faultline, and over the next 20 years, it released 7 more Birdsongs recordings that were highly acclaimed in the international music press. Most recently, Cuneiform released Dawn of the Cycads, a double disc that reissued the 3 earliest Birdsongs albums, originally released 1983-87 on Ace of Hearts. The New York Times called the band: "the world's hardest rocking chamber music quartet."

Cuneiform Night in Boston will also include one of Cuneiform's most recent signings: The Cellar and Point, based in New York. The Boston show will also serve as Cellar and Point's Boston record release party, celebrating its Cuneiform debut disc, called Ambit. The Cellar and Point's music can be seen as a fresh, 21st Century version of Chamber Rock that incorporates the composition and technical skill of orchestral and classical music, the energy and emotional frankness of rock, and the instrumentation and improvisation of jazz.

We look forward to seeing you at Cuneiform Night in Boston!

[Johnny D's in Somerville]
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
& The Cellar and Point
Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant
& Music Club

17 Holland St, Somerville, MA
Across from the Davis Square T-stop

Doors open at 5 PM
Show from 7 PM-10 PM
$10 for the whole evening.

Buy Tickets Here
Facebook Page for the Show
Johnny D's Website

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Cuneiform Records!



[the cellar and point | credit: James Ewing]

The Cellar And Point is an adventurous 'garage chamber' band, developed and led by childhood friends Joseph Branciforte and Christopher Botta. They had long imagined a fluid synthesis of their wide-ranging interests: the detail of modern concert music, the improvisational sensibilities of downtown jazz and the emotional directness of rock, combined with the production values of hip-hop and electronica.

Might it be possible to draw equally upon these influences, while transcending mere collage and to present it in the context of a working ensemble, not just a studio project? After 3 years spent composing and recruiting an impressive cross-section of talent from New York City's classical, jazz and new music scenes, Ambit, the group's impressive debut album, is one answer to those questions.

“...the chamberlike enterprise of a productive partnership, of the percussionist Joseph Branciforte and the guitarist Christopher Botta.”
- Nate Chinen, The New York Times

“...a brainy, yet highly engaging septet... should come as a delight to fans of the Claudia Quintet's ethereal chamber-prog.”
- Steve Smith, Time Out NY

"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."
- All About Jazz

"What is this? Post-rock? Experimental chamber music? Out-jazz? The septet the cellar and point are elegant but enigmatic practitioners of instrumental music."
- Something Else! Reviews

“The Cellar and Point... use acoustic instruments and electronics to create a sound that is winningly melodic, thoughtful in its balance, groove-heavy, sometimes glitchy, and delightfully unpredictable as the septet straddles all kinds of genres.”
- WNYC’s New Sounds

The Cellar And Point's debut album, Ambit, released THIS WEEK on Cuneiform!


Cat. #: Rune 376, Format: CD / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
Genre: Jazz / Classical / Garage-Chamber / Chamber Rock / Avant-Progrtessive

STREAM/SHARE: "white cylinder (a)"

Drummer/producer Joseph Branciforte and guitarist Christopher Botta had long imagined a fluid synthesis of their wide-ranging musical interests. The detail of modern concert music; the improvisational sensibilities of downtown jazz; the emotional directness of alt-rock. The production value and formal concision of pop, the head-nodding grooves of hip-hop and electronica, the immersive sonics of ambient music. Might it be possible to draw equally upon these influences, while transcending mere collage? How could these manifold musical experiences be distilled into a personal, unified aesthetic? And could this music be presented in the context of a working ensemble - not just a studio project - but a band?

THE CELLAR AND POINT is one possible answer to those questions. After 3 years spent crafting their debut record, the “garage-chamber” septet will release AMBIT on Cuneiform Records this fall. Time Out New York has described the ensemble's sound as “ethereal chamber-prog” and lauded their live performance as “brainy, yet highly engaging.” The New York Times has taken note of “the chamberlike enterprise of a productive partnership, of the percussionist Joseph Branciforte and the guitarist Christopher Botta.” But AMBIT, which features seven Branciforte/Botta originals, plus arrangements of composers György Ligeti and Anton Webern, marks the group's first complete musical statement.

Hometown friends from Ramsey, NJ, Branciforte and Botta grew up making music together: from their middle-school days of Rage Against the Machine covers and high school explorations of jazz improvisation, to their formal studies of classical and contemporary composition, electronic music, and record production at Berklee College of Music. “We absorbed a lot of the same music at the same time,” says Branciforte. “From Autechre to Morton Feldman to Wu-Tang Clan to J.S. Bach – there was a lot of time spent listening, discussing, analyzing.”

The two eventually moved back to New York and, after several years of composing and creating demos of new material, THE CELLAR AND POINT took shape. The pair began recruiting an impressive cross-section of young talent from New York City’s classical, jazz, and new music scenes to bring their vision to life.

Multi-percussionist Joe Bergen, founding member of Mantra Percussion and TRANSIT, was enlisted on vibraphone. “We knew we wanted to build the group around a distinctive melodic voice – but also something not too indicative of any particular genre,” says Botta. On White Cylinder, a 9.5-minute, drum'n'bass influenced tour de force, Bergen navigates syncopated, angular lines with mechanical precision. On “Étude XV,” he reveals a more ethereal approach, delicately teasing out the voices in an arrangement of Ligeti's late piano etude.

Violinist Chistopher Otto and cellist Kevin McFarland, members of the internationally acclaimed JACK Quartet, were also early additions to the group. Otto and McFarland command a variety of orchestrational effects: from machine-gun pizzicato runs and webs of rhythmically-complex counterpoint to extended techniques honed from years of Xenakis and Lachenmann. On “Ruminant,” they improvised multiple layers of spectral effects atop their basic string parts, later edited by Branciforte to form a dense sonic tapestry.

Guitarist Terrence McManus, known for his work with forward-thinking jazz musicians Gerry Hemmingway, Ellery Eskelin, and Tyshawn Sorey, not only had the requisite skills to execute the technically-demanding electric guitar parts, but also brought an improvisational x-factor that helped breathe new life into the meticulously notated music. “Tabletop (a)” features a scintillating McManus solo, while “Tabletop (b)” finds him enhancing the group texture with Frisell-like chordal swells and loops.

In early 2011, after a year of performance-testing and polishing, THE CELLAR AND POINT entered the studio. Branciforte and Botta handled engineering duties, with Branciforte additionally acting as producer. “We knew from the start that we wanted to engineer, produce, and mix the record ourselves,” he says. “There has always been something appealing about the DIY recording ethos of someone like Sufjan Stevens, where a homegrown approach to recording seems to amplify the idiosyncratic qualities of the music.”

In late 2011, Branciforte and Botta traveled to Los Angeles to work with studio bassist Rufus Philpot. Philpot's playing on AMBIT strikes a balance between providing a rich bottom-end foundation and taking an active melodic and textural role. On “Purple Octagon” Philpot switches to fretless bass and, along with Branciforte's propulsive brushwork, helps set up a infectious, driving groove.

Over the course of 2012 and 2013, the record proceeded in stops and starts. Branciforte soon became busy producing and engineering another epic recording, Ben Monder's Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013), as well as recordings for Tim Berne, Mark Dresser, Michael Attias, Ingrid Laubrock, and Matt Mitchell. He and Botta continued to supplement the basic tracks at their Brooklyn post-production studio – Branciforte laying down piano, Moog bass, glockenspiel, percussion, and drum loops, with Botta adding banjo and guitar loops. Finally, by the end of 2013, a finished product began to emerge.

The record was mixed and mastered by Branciforte in early 2014. But not before adding one final piece. The title track, “Ambit,” which acts as a coda to the album, was actually the result of a technical error.

“The original version of “Ambit” was around 7 minutes long. It was certainly one of the tunes we had spent the most time working on, although we were never quite satisfied with it. One day during recording, there was a sudden sample-rate error that ended up glitching the playback to around half the piece's original speed. After a few minutes of sitting there and listening, Chris and I both looked at each other and said, half-jokingly: 'maybe we should just use this instead?'”

The pair ended up treating the clocking error as the inspiration for the final album version, re-conceiving the piece from the ground-up. “It seemed strangely emblematic of the entire project: identifying and striving towards an ideal, reaching the limits of intentionality or control - and then recognizing a new way to proceed through some serendipitous element or event,” says Branciforte. “There truly would have been no other way to arrive at this result without going through the entire process.”

BOTM (L-R): Ken Field - woodwinds, Rick Scott - synthesizer,
Erik Lindgren - piano/synthesizer, Michael Bierylo - guitar/computer

Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic began in 1980 as a side project by half of Boston's famed rock band, Mission Of Burma: Roger Miller and Martin Swope. Miller and Swope joined forces with Rick Scott and Erik Lindgren. Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic have earned international recognition for their innovative sound. Their unlikely mix of rock, punk, classical, minimalism, and free-form sound appeals to a broad range of musical tastes.

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic have performed to packed houses at art galleries, rock clubs, museums, and concert halls throughout the Northeast and elsewhere in the US, including the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in Washington, DC. The band members have served as Artists-in-Residence at Dartmouth College and the Massachusetts College of Art, and have composed music for, among other things, the popular children's television series Sesame Street. The band's music has a also been used by several contemporary dance companies. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic continues to perform at festivals worldwide, with its longstanding lineup consisting of Erik Lindgren, Ken Field, Rick Scott and Michael Bierylo.

"the world's hardest rocking chamber music quartet." - The New York Times

"classical-punk-jazz-car-wreck music." -Boston Globe


The Complete Ace of Heart's Recordings (1983-1987)

CUNEIFORM [RUNE 274/275] 2008
LISTEN: Ptoccata [mp3]

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (Minimoog, Memorymoog, rhythm machines, percussion), Roger Miller (grand piano, Yamaha CP-70 piano, percussion, organ), Rick Scott (Farfisa, DX-7 synthesizer, percussion, piano), Martin Swope (guitar, percussion)
For the first time ever, this 2-CD retrospective contains all of the band's 3 recordings for Ace of Hearts (Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Magnetic Flip and Beat of the Mesozoic) and are reissued in their entirety and in the order in which they were originally heard when they were first issued. In the the words of Erik Lindgren, the remastering done here, "sonically makes their Sonic Geology [1988 Rykodisc collection] package irrelevant." This new retrospective comes with a 20-page booklet of notes and photos and there is a huge wealth of totally cool CDRom material - 175 photos, art files, set-lists, dioramas, letters, documents and more. Additionally, there are two studio tracks and seven live tracks, none of which have ever been heard before, for over 45' of bonus material.


LISTEN: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho [mp3]

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (acoustic grand piano), Rick Scott (synthesizer), Ken Field (sax, flute, percussion), Michael Bierylo (guitar/programming, sound design) Oral Moses (vocals-bass baritone)

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (piano), Rick Scott (synthesizer), Ken Field (sax, flute), Michael Bierylo (guitar)

Guests: Roger Miller (piano), Larry Dersch (drums), Terry Donahue (percussion), Eric Paull (drums), Ken Winokur (percussion)


LISTEN: Petrophonics [mp3]
Lineup: Erik Lindgren (piano), Rick Scott (synthesizer), Ken Field (sax, flute), Michael Bierylo (guitar)
Guests: Terry Donahue (percussion), Pacey Foster (turntable), David Greenberger (voice), Eric Paull (drums), John Styklunas (bass), Ken Winokur (percussion)

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (piano, synthesizers), Rick Scott (synthesizers), Ken Field (sax, flute, synthesizer), Michael Bierylo (guitar)

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (piano, synthesizers), Rick Scott (synthesizers, clarinet), Roger Miller (piano), Martin Swope (guitar)

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (piano, synthesizers), Rick Scott (synthesizer), Ken Field (sax, synthesizer), Martin Swope (guitar)
Guests: Willie Alexander (percussion), Ken Winokur (percussion)


LISTEN: The True Wheelbase [mp3]

Lineup: Erik Lindgren (piano, trumpet), Rick Scott (synthesizer, piano), Ken Field (sax), Martin Swope (guitar), Steve Adams (sax, clarinet)



Founded in 1984 and operating out of Washington DC [downtown Silver Spring, MD], Cuneiform Records is one of the United States' longest-running and largest independent record labels dedicated to releasing international avant-garde music. While focusing on the progressive frontier of myriad musical genres, from classical minimalism to experimental rock, avant-jazz to noise/electronica, Cuneiform is especially noted for music that transcends, defies, and/or redefines established music genres. For instance, Cuneiform has long championed hybrid and beyond-genre music such as Chamber Rock, a perfect hybrid of classical and rock music and instrumentation. Numbering more than 400 records, Cuneiform's catalogue includes recordings by some of the best artists in the international avant-garde. Its artists range from established stars and innovators in their genre, to up-and-comers in whom it sees talent and the ability to push music to the next level. Cuneiform is proud of the consistent quality and artistry of its signees and hopes to continue to serve the international community of avant-garde music for years to come


Orion Sound - 2903 Whittington Ave., Suite C - Baltimore, MD 21230 (Record Release Party for all 3 bands: Jonathan Badger, The Cellar And Point and Anthony Pirog)

Johnny D's - Somerville, MA (with Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic and the cellar and point)

Cuneiform Night at Shapeshifter Lab - 18 Whitwell Place - Brooklyn, NY 11215
(with The Microscopic Septet, Ideal Bread & Curtis Hasselbring's Numbers Stations Band)


For more information about Cuneiform Records, the talented artists that it represents, and the numerous adventurous recordings that it's released over three decades, please see:

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