The Upshot: Bowie-tilting chamber pop married to contemporary classical.
BY MARK JENKINS
The first track to be released from cellist Takenobu’s fifth album,
Reversal, is not exactly representative. The pleasant “Curtain Call”
is the only piece that includes lyrics and vocals, the latter provided
by the Atlanta-based musician himself. The string counterpart is more
assertive than Takenobu’s featherweight singing, but “Curtain Call” is
basically a pop-folkie after-the-affair lament. The classically
trained Japanese-American composer (full name: Nick Takenobu Ogawa)
even throws in what sounds likes a strummed acoustic guitar.
The rest of the album consists of song-length instrumentals that mix
late-19th-century Romanticism with late-20th-century Minimalism. The
album’s almost-title-track, “Reversing,” owes something to
“Koyanisquaatsi”-period Philip Glass, but Takenobu is no more indebted
to Glass and his peers than are most contemporary post-classical or
new-age composers. Layering gentle melodies atop a taut pulse is
standard procedure these days.
The 13 pieces aren’t all balmy ripplings. Somewhat discordant passages
interrupt “Things Fall Apart,” “Darkness” boasts a strutting bass line
and electric-guitar-like timbres and the wistful “Snow Day” includes a
stirring major-key fanfare that could rock arenas. If Takenobu decides
to write more “Curtain Call”s he certainly has the melodic chops.
Reversal‘s brand of almost-pop chamber music suggests David Bowie
and the Left Banke as often as it does Ravel or Satie.
DOWNLOAD: “Curtain Calls” “Darkness”