Takenobu's 5 albums at a glance
Introduction and beyond: A quick look at the singer, cellist, and composer's musical odyssey
Takénobu's debut album is the first in a five-record series based on the traditional structure of a tragic play. Introduction has 10 songs featuring vocals — including a stunning cello-based rendition of the 18th-century traditional folk song "Shady Grove" — and two instrumentals. It also lays the blueprint for Ogawa's elegant, nontraditional songwriting, and illustrates the genre ambiguity surrounding his work with a nagging question: Is this modern classical music? Experimental pop? Or is this something else entirely?
The second chapter in Takénobu's tragic cycle, Exposition, delves deeper into Ogawa's introspective songwriting. "Light the Flame," "Jigsaw," and "Fool's Gold" are bound by a flourishing, natural syncopation between his supple voice and the bold tone of his steel, tungsten, and alloy strings. The album's strengths lie in a growing sense of Ogawa becoming more comfortable with his instrument, while gaining confidence in his musical vision. Halfway through 2015, Exposition surpassed Introduction as the most downloaded album in Takénobu's catalog.
Takénobu's third album breaks from the cycle set in place by Introduction and Exposition. Momotaro is an instrumental adaptation of a soundtrack for the Japanese fairy tale of the same name. For this 32-minute adventure, Ogawa's all-cello compositions are arranged as one continuous piece of music. Momotaro is, at turns, celebratory, tranquil, and mysterious. The CD features cover art by Brooklyn-based oil finger-painter Iris Scott.
Climactica is Takénobu's first album that prominently features other instrumentalists — a cast of local players including drummer John Craig, vocalist Brooke McFadden, and now regular sideman Brian Harper on violin. Here, Ogawa moves into modern indie pop terrain. Songs such as "Fight to Make It Up," "King of Camelot," and "Chartreuse" justify the comparisons to higher profile acts such as the Books, Kishi Bashi, and Andrew Bird, with whom Takénobu is often associated. Most striking, however, is how Climactica's layered and intensely melodic songs make all of his previous work feel sparse by comparison.
Takénobu's fifth album, Reversal, flips the dynamic of his debut album, Introduction. One lyrical number, "Curtain Call," is weighed against 12 bold and stylized instrumentals. As a composer, Ogawa is at the summit of his abilities so far. Themes of self-searching and reliving relationships coming to an end resonate here more powerfully than ever before. Ogawa's lilting strings and lyrics such as "You looked at me as it all was falling down. But I could hardly see with all the dust around. Everything we had set our hands upon, everything we touched is ashes on the ground" reach complicated poetic highs.