Koki Nakono fuses piano and dance on his new album

Koki Nakono fuses piano and dance on his new album

Koki Nakano – Pre-Choreographed

No Format

CD | Vinyl | DL

Out on 24th April 2020


When pianist Koki Nakano was training at the Tokyo University of the Arts he probably didn’t see his career taking him to France, and signing for the cutting edge No Format! label founded by Laurent Bizot. Paul Clarke reviews latest album Pre-Choreographed.

Nakano says his second album is a continuation of his desire to explore the binary relationships between music and dance. As he notes: “When I compose, I always keep an image of bodies in a state of movement up in my head.”

His compositions were partly inspired by watching the L-E-V dance company perform in front of the Nympheas by Monet at the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris. The tone and textures of his often delicate compositions are much more suitable for modern dance performances than the more grandiose orchestral scores that usually accompany classical ballet.

His sparse, but dextrous, playing style lends itself to the open spaces he creates for his imaginary dancers to work, and is typified by Overlay as his hypnotic repetitive playing strains against droney electronic effects.

The more reflective Bloomer is infused with scrapes and scratches as if Nakano is encouraging the dancers to bloom like flowers as the piece develops. Choreographed Mollusk’s electronic effects are ethereal and disturbing as Nakano’s textured playing weaves round them.

Minim’s jabbed notes are a rare moment of almost jauntiness that would work well with an ensemble dancing off the riffs and runs. The plucked strings and slightly chaotic percussion on Palinopsia give Nakano’s playing an angry and almost disorientated feel. Genou Respirant ending in mechanical thuds is also an eerie listen, before the relatively big chords for him on Faire le Poirier pull together many of the themes that Nakano is exploring.

All these pieces work on their own merits as Nakano is an intelligent composer and gifted pianist, who never overuses his technique, but they really come to life in a series of videos that are being choreographed by leading dancers from across the globe. Amala Dianor’s take on Near-Perfect Synchronization makes physical sense of Nakono’s thinking as he dances round an auction site for heavy plant machinery

Like many contemporary composers Koki Nakano is seeking to link his work to the chaotic world around him, and even if you don’t watch the video interpretations there are some moments of rare beauty in pieces that never go beyond four minutes.

You can follow Koki Nakano on Facebook.


Review by Paul Clarke, you can see his author profile here.

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