Fluid blue toned painting with intricate branch forms, taken from the music video for Key103 by Floating Points

Floating Points’ new video is a fluid exploration of lifeforms

Tokyo-based artist Akiko Nakayama has created ‘alive paintings’ for the producer’s forthcoming album, and will be joining him on tour to create improvisational visuals later this year

British music producer, DJ and composer Floating Points has announced his forthcoming third studio album Cascade, following 2019’s complex masterpiece Crush. The news coincides with the release of a track off the album, Key103, named after an underground radio station in his home city of Manchester that he listened to religiously in his formative years.

Those roots are a throughline across the album, which marries with the Key103 music video created by Akiko Nakayama, who has already delivered videos for two previously released singles off the record. The Tokyo-based artist is known for her kinetic ‘alive paintings’ using liquids such as paint, which she manipulates to create fluid, transfixing visuals. “I drop only the first ink, but science paints the details beyond that; it’s a great collaboration,” she tells us.

The video for Key103 stems from her explorations of tree forms, having recently worked with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology as part of her research of ‘dendritic painting’ (dendritic referring to the branching forms of a tree). Those branching shapes recur through the video in remarkable detail considering her pieces are often no bigger than a namecard, requiring the use of a macro camera to record them.

While the inky hues and cool tones dominate the Key103 video, the album cover for Cascade is a more fluorescent affair. “I felt that Floating Points’ sounds are colourful, sophisticated, and playful, and I wanted to create a painting with those keywords,” explains Nakayama, who suggested the final piece after creating more than 100 paintings for the team. All of Nakayama’s pieces reward the viewer for looking closely, and it’s no different with the Cascade album art, which features a subtle pattern that resembles a waveform.

Nakayama’s work has already been used in Floating Points shows, when she has created videos in her studio before Hamill Industries (a long-time Floating Points collaborator) edited them and mixed them to the music. However, she will be joining Floating Points in person for tour dates later this year.

“I was [previously] only involved in the first step of production, like growing the vegetables, having Hamill Industries cook them, and then everyone would taste them. However, I will be in the real concert hall in the fall, so I will be able to show you even more fresh and delicious paintings!” she says.

Album cover for Cascade by Floating Points featuring an abstract composition in pink and blue tones
Cascade album cover

Outside the controlled environment of her studio, Nakayama’s work will take on an even more improvisational quality than usual. “During live shows, the paintings change depending on the heat of the venue and real-world external factors.

“The temperature and humidity will also be reflected in the painting, and if the excitement of the audience puts me in a flow state, then an unknown visual that is perfect for that moment will emerge automatically. And the sound physically causes this little painting to shake, in the same way that ripples form on the surface of water when you have a drink at a venue. With all these factors coming together, the painting will start dancing.”

Cascade will be released via Ninja Tune on September 13; akikopainting.com; hamillindustries.com