Takenobu's Exposition is the artist's sophomore effort, with more instrumental cello songs, and a more solid grip on his production skills.
The cello is Takenobu's mode of expression, and the four completely instrumental tracks on the album, "Exposition," "Drift Along," "Black Stallion," and "Greeneries," all contain a different emotional take on the instrument's character and range. Lyrical songs like "Light the Flame" and "Excuse Me" bring Takenobu's pop sensibility to the forefront, with hooks that listener's will be humming along to. Darker more contemplative lyrical songs are present on the album as well, with tracks like "Fool's Gold" and "Thin Ice".
The title track "Exposition" is at once a driving cello ballad, and an appalachian-folk bow-blazing romp. The piece moves through distinctive rhythmic changes, with Takenobu's signature arpeggiated plucked chords at the backbone of the song. The long legato bowed lines are both romantic and remorseful to begin with, but grow dark as the track progresses into something completely new, a much more romping and rhythmically heavy dance of layered cellos that begin to stomp and surge together. The revelry is almost raucous, especially for something as traditional as a cello, and opens the album into something a bit heavier than Takenobu's first effort, Introduction.
The instrumental track "Drift Along" also moves through a rhythmic progression, becoming faster and faster as the track progresses, from very sweet and airy, to more solidly mid-tempo, finally to a bluesy jig. Takenobu's versatility with the cello is on display with this track, shifting the emotions from something wistful and contemplative into something happy, upbeat, and almost danceable, all within only a few minutes.
Instrumental tracks "Black Stallion" and "Greeneries" stay rooted in a classical impressionist realm, with less of a rhythmic drive than other tracks on the album. "Black Stallion" is both haunting and triumphant, and is an etude of a very traditional classical nature. "Greeneries" is reflective and meditative, and is more modern sounding with it's layers and progression, but still much more of a classical sounding piece than other tracks on the album.
As for lyrical songs, "Jigsaw" is a love ballad with soaring bowed strings. The tempo is slow, and the melody is mild, declarative, but still reserved and sweet. "Excuse Me" is the closest Takenobu comes to a pop-tune. Its upbeat and catchy melody make for a much lighter side of the cello. "Light the Flame" also contains a bit of a popular music style of driving beat, but with a much heavier dirge, which only the cello can provide. "Darkest Before the Dawn" may start out slow, but it ends heavy, and ventures into an indie and perhaps more epic sound space than the rest of the album.
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, Mumford and Sons. The minimalism and emotional range of the composition also evokes many cinematic composers, like Philip Glass, Thomas Newman, and Hans Zimmer. Takenobu explores a vast range of sounds on Exposition, and takes the cello to new levels.