Tomo Nakayama, “Roma”

Hypnogogia + post-millennial anxiety = a dreamlike new music video.

Hypnogogia, that hazy twilight of consciousness that occurs between wakefulness and sleep, was the inspiration for “Roma,” the latest single from Tomo Nakayama’s upcoming Pieces of Sky album.

“Whenever I’m traveling I have trouble sleeping, so I tend to take late night/early morning walks before everyone else wakes up,” says Nakayama. He recalls two walks in particular—”through a strangely quiet and peaceful Shibuya district in Tokyo and through the waterfront in Gothenburg, Sweden”—as especially meaningful, their hallucinatory sensibilities melding into a latent anxiety “about the weird, terrible American reality we live in now, that feels like we’ve stumbled into an alternate dimension.” The result, he says, is “Roma,” a typically gorgeous tune that, with Nakayama’s eerie falsetto and its diffuse electronic accompaniment, brings to mind Thom Yorke’s solo work. 

The video, which we’re premiering today, reinforces the song’s somnambulent feel. Nakayama was touring through Los Angeles when he met director Jeremy Cordy after one of his concerts. Cordy later enlisted a modern dancer to perform four dances on camera, then overlaid them all with set design reminiscent of a Matisse painting. The sum total of imagery and music plays like a morning dream, the kind that leaves a feeling of familiarity that you can’t quite hold as sleep gives way to reality. Check it out below, and keep an eye out for Pieces of Sky, which comes out Sept. 8 on Namayaka’s Ricebelly Music label.