Koki Nakono announces new album ‘Pre-Choreographed’ out April 24 via Nø Førmat!

Japanese pianist Koki Nakano has announced the release of his new album, ‘Pre-Choreographed’, out on April 24, 2020 via Nø Førmat!. The news arrives with the first piece to be presented from the album, ‘Bloomer’, via a stunning video choreographed & performed by Japanese dancer, Mariko Kakizaki. The follow-up to Nakano’s much-admired 2016 debut ‘Lift’, the new album ‘Bloom’ is created in collaboration with cellist Vincent Segal.

Hailing from Fukuoka Prefecture and later trained at both Japan’s prestigious Toho Gakuen music school and the Tokyo University of the Arts (alongside a sideline in electro-rock, via band Gas Law), Koki came to the attention of Nø Førmat! label founder Laurent Bizot when he performed at Tokyo’s Maison de la Culture in 2014. Bizot signed him on the spot – with Koki soon upping sticks to move permanently from Japan to France – continuing the label’s fondness for adventures with progressive pianists, begun back in 2004 when Nø Førmat! issued Chilly Gonzales’ pivotal ‘Solo Piano’.

Conceived alone by Nakano from A to Z, ‘Pre-Choreographed’ is the continuation of the opening chapter ‘Lift’ –  after his two-step with Vincent Segal, Koki now takes a leap forward. A pivotal moment was seeing Sara, a piece performed by the L-E-V dance company (of which Mariko Kakizaki is a member) in front of the Nymphéas by Monet, at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. “This experience got me thinking about the limits of our body,” the pianist explains; “but also about the limits of our individuality: which laid the foundations of ‘Pre-Choreographed’. When I compose, I keep images of bodies in a state of movement up in my head. They’re a great help to me when it comes to structuring each of my pieces, which develop as if they were responding to those movements.” 

This synthesis is startling in the new video which accompanies ‘Bloomer’, in which director Benjamin Seroussi (Benjamin Clementine, Opening Ceremony) and dancer Mariko Kakizaki track the overlaid scratches and scrapes of Nakano’s arabesque to intuitive choreography. Speaking about the video – shot in the subterranean caverns and dune-peaks of Israel’s Negev Desert – Seroussi says; “For ‘Bloomer’ Koki had a very specific image when composing it. He talked about plants, and flowers blooming – that special moment when an element is in between two states. Inside / Out. We talked about this with Mariko so she could infuse it in her choreography. I really liked the idea of shooting her inside a cave but also making use of natural sunlight. I really wanted to play with this idea of inner sun, fusing elements about to burst and come out.”

Other catalysing moments behind ‘Pre-Choreographed’ came about with Nakano’s previous collaborations with the artist and sculptor Kohei Nawa, and conversations with choreographer Damien Jalet (who has also worked on one of the album’s other exquisite dance-led videos), who suggested; “The big question now is to know how one comprehends the world: is the environment an extension of our bodies, or are our bodies the extension of our environment?”. And so, Koki’s album bears a title which speaks to a re-alignment of music & dance; “It reflects the keen sense of longing I feel for a time when the two disciplines were closely bound together, functioning jointly in society. It also means it’s as if the music is in a state of ‘waiting’ for, or even ‘lacking’, choreography.”

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