The cello is the most similar in sound to the human voice, and when combined in layers it makes a chorus of strings. Add to that Takenobu's mellow and warm vocals and you get a unique and refreshing sound that will yield many rewarding listens. Takenobu's Introduction draws from a range of folk, blues, classical, rock, and pop influences to create a sonic landscape that is mellow and soothing, yet still fresh and modern. The upbeat instrumental track "Thursday" is a melodic meditation, with playful harmonies and fanciful sounding pizzicato. The layered strings make a rich texture of melody and rhythm that is orchestral and classical in its roots, but modern in its execution.
The emotional range of the cello, like the human voice is quite vast, and throughout Introdution, Takenobu explores a wide array of emotional styles and moods. The instrumental track "Fishin'" is wistful and contemplative, but still dark and rich. The soulful melody lines have a distinctly asian texture, evoking the sounds of some ancient tune, played over the plucking of a dark and haunting instrument.
The folk classic "Shady Grove" gets a new and unique interpretation, as Takenobu's original arrangement for the cello brings the appalachian classic into a new ethereal space. The rolling bowed chords bring new warmth and depth to the bluegrass classic. The longing of the melody is both remorseful and loving, and the cello brings a certain heaviness to the tune, that only adds to its emotional depth.
Takenobu's debut album is an exploration of the boundaries of what can be composed for the cello. "Time for Some Action", "Accomplice", and "To the Stars" are lyrical songs written in the contemporary pop style, just arranged for layers of cello, instead of guitar. "Deeper than the Vine" and "Beggars Can't be Choosers" display how versatile the cello can be, and that it really can play the blues. Slapped rhythms and hard plucking make these blues songs foot-stompers in their own right.
Experimentation and more avant garde harmonic and rhythmic constructions are the basis of "Neverland." The track is the boldest production effort and incorporates rhythmic grooves and abrupt changes to create a very distinctive and more rhythmically complex piece. The layered vocal harmonies accentuate the explorative nature of the piece.
Today there are several prominent musicians and composers that are bridging the gap between classical instruments and modern music. The violinist and guitarist Andrew Bird, cellist Zoe Keating, multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens, all share a similar musical space with Takenobu. However the classical instrumentation isn't a limitation, many modern day artists evoke a similar emotional depth and nostalgic sound; artists like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Avett Brothers, and Iron & Wine. There's something haunting that these artists share in common, and Takenobu's Introduction dabbles in the same space.