Koki Nakano is a Japanese pianist and composer. Four years after Lift, he released a new album. Pre-Choreographed is out now via Nø Førmat!. It explores the binary relationship between music and dance, and is accompanied by a series of rather stunning music videos, choreographed by leading dancers.

Watch the new video for the track “Train-Train“, which was directed by Benjamin Seroussi and choreographed by Damien Jalet; he also explained, track by track, the journey and the meaning of each track of the new album. Check it below.

Overlay. to superimpose, to cover something with a layer of something, to smother (an infant) by lying upon it, as in sleep

The act of overlaying, even though it’s done out of love, can accidentally kill someone in this world where we are limited by our bodies

Bloomer. This piece was influenced by a work called SArA, by L-e-V dance Company, which I saw in 2018 at Paris’s International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC), in Monet’s ‘Les Nymphéas’ room at the Orangerie Museum.

Watching the fluent transitions between parts of the ensemble, with groups of dancers and solo parts alternating repeatedly for 15 minutes, lead me to think about the moment when certain flowers open or close (e.g. a water lily closes at night and reopens the next morning.), as well as the relationship between a flower and its petals. When a flower opens into full bloom, each petal acquires a certain individuality as a ‘petal’. however, when the flower closes, its petals are no longer recognizable. All you see is a ‘flower’.

Near Perfect Synchronization. This piece is a depiction of a scene that I have in my mind, in which a couple are walking through some extreme territory, like the North pole. They just hold their course, walking side by side. Icebergs are breaking off. The debris from broken satellites is flying around above their heads; but they don’t react to anything. Nothing can get in their way. They seem to be enveloped in a complete calmness. They are together. They keep walking towards the edge of the pole. 

Choreographed Mollusks. ‘Choreographed Mollusks’ is a nocturne for things living deep in the sea or somewhere on another planet. The piece was inspired by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun, a work that reminded me the question about the boundary between one body and another, one state and another. 

I tried to apply my feelings about this piece directly to the music. I literally ‘choreographed’ my two hands and ten fingers. This enabled me to focus entirely on the precise timing and movement of my digits. When the movement of the finger becomes choreography, the value of every gesture is equal. This approach freed me from things I used to think were essential, such as melody, harmony or rhythm. It was a process of composition that required something very cryptic, like giving choreography to mollusks. 

Minim. One sixtieth of a fluid drachm, about one drop of liquid, or a half note. 

Palinopsia. Palinopsia is the persistent recurrence of a visual image after the stimulus has been withdrawn. It describes a diverse group of pathological visual symptoms, with a wide variety of causes. Visual perseveration is synonymous with palinopsia. I resist my linear sense of time with the help of the confusion or disorientation that palinopsia instils in the mind. 

Genou Respirant. My friend Mariko Kakizaki dances for the L-e-V dance company. She follows Ohad Naharin’s ‘Mr gaga’ method, and she sent me some words she actually uses to lead her body in her solo dance. 

I was very inspired by those words, which are full of synesthetic metaphors. Genou respirant (‘breathing knee’ in French) is one of those metaphors. My piece makes many references to ‘Une Barque sur L’Ocean’ from the Mirrors suite by Maurice Ravel, because I needed images of water for this album. 

Graftage. When you see graftage from afar, you can never know whether you’re looking at a natural tree or not. But when you focus on it, you can find the join, which seems like a painful wound. 

To be shifted sideways by someone, given a new ‘shoot’, a new bearing, just when your life seemed to be flowing in one particular direction, that can happen to anyone. In this piece, looped melody lines are shifted involuntarily, as if by graftage. 

Berceuse. Sleep should relieve you from all your anxieties.

Train-Train. When I’m on a train, I look out of the window, and here’s always a moment when my way of seeing the world changes, from a series of boring repetitions to a succession of precious things.  Any simple thing can trigger this change, like a change of sunlight, a smell or a message from a friend. This track evokes an ascent of energy that comes out of a boring routine. 

Faire Le Poirer. Late one afternoon, a group of young women dressed in colourful clothes are doing headstands, with very slow movements, on some rocks by the sea in Brittany. It comes across as a moderate, peaceful resistance to our usual gravity.