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Koki Nakano — Train-Train | NOWNESS



Pre-Choreographed feels both lively, and very much alive Metro
Like many contemporary composers Nakano is seeking to link his work to the chaotic world around him
 8/10 Louder Than War
An exciting new release Nowness
Nakano has turned every expectation of piano music on its head A Closer Listen

Japanese pianist Koki Nakano today releases the stunning video to accompany his track ‘Train-Train’, lifted from his acclaimed new album ‘Pre-Choreographed’, which out now through Nø Førmat! (Oumou Sangaré, Mélissa Laveaux) and available to stream here. Directed by Benjamin Seroussi (Opening Ceremony, Benjamin Clementine), the new video has been choreographed by award-winning dancer Damien Jalet, who has previously collaborated with musicians including Bjork, Thom Yorke and Florence + The Machine. Watch the ‘Train-Train’ video from here.



The latest in a series of specially commissioned choreographed films to reflect Koki’s fascination with the world of dance, the frenetic video for ‘Train-Train’ – starring Greek dancer Aimilios Arapoglou – was shot on location in an abandoned high-rise monolith in the area of Paris’ Banlieue known simply as ‘the 93’. Speaking about the filmic inspiration for the shoot & his choreography, Damien Jalet notes; “Immediately I thought of this Chaplin-esque character in the film Dodeskaden by Akira Kurosawa, conducting an imaginary tram through a  trash dump. I love this character because he is referring to the power of imagination when there is really nothing left, and how he expresses pure joy even if living in a broken world.”

Adding about the sobering timeliness of the video in the context of current global events, Jalet adds; “Aimilios Arapoglou is a long standing artistic partner and was for me the perfect mad train man, managing to combine virtuosity and musical clumsiness, emotional engagement while keeping a sense of abstraction. We shot this film on a beautiful afternoon in Paris, unaware of the upcoming lockdown, yet watching the video today this isolated dance with the city in the backdrop, translates the maddening quality of a long confinement…”.

Speaking about the challenges of capturing Arapoglou’s movements through the abandoned tower block, director Seroussi notes; “Damien and I both agreed the video needed movement at all times. Our cameraman/ DOP (Quentin Delamarzelle) needed to be dancing with Aimilios. He did a great job doing so! I was looking for a certain harmony in the way we shoot and follow the dancing, but I also needed accidents, mistakes, crashes. We both wanted to avoid a static, traditional perspective of dance and movement. Damien’s choreography was the backbone of this video”.

Koki concludes; “When I look at the view from A train window, there is the moment when the way I see it changes, from boring repetition to something precious. Any simple thing could be the trigger for it, such as a change of sunlight or smell, or receiving a message from a friend. The day of the shoot, Damien called counts for each takes, Aimilious was rolling around, Benjamin and us were running and chasing it from the morning until night. We were all driving our imaginary trains with the eternal ascent of the imagination that day.”

‘Pre-Choreographed’ itself is the continuation of the deep relationship Koki Nakano’s music maintains with dance. A pivotal moment for Nakano in the creation of the album was seeing Sara, a piece performed by the L-E-V dance company in front of the Nymphéas by Monet, at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, which laid the foundations of the new album. “When I compose,” explains Nakano; “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.” 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.”

Hailing from Fukuoka Prefecture and later trained at both Japan’s prestigious Toho Gakuen music school and the Tokyo University of the Arts, 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’.

Pre-Choreographed is available to purchase from here: