Zubin Kanga: Cyborg Pianist

Zubin Kanga

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Format: 2CDR

Cat No: NMCD279

Release Date:  29 September 2023

Label:  NMC Recordings

Packaging Type:  Jewel Case

No of Units:  2

Barcode:  5023363027922

Genres:  Classical  

  • Description

    What is the future of the piano? This is a question that pianist, composer, and technologist Zubin Kanga has explored for over a decade now and one which he investigates in his first solo release on NMC, Cyborg Pianist.

    Inviting some of the most inventive and forward-thinking composers of today to incorporate a host of cutting-edge technological alterations and extensions into their new works for solo piano, Kanga develops a new 'cyborg sonic identity' for an instrument that has remained largely unchanged for the past century. Commissioned as part of Kanga's multi-year music and research project Cyborg Soloists, Cyborg Pianist is a treasure trove of technological innovation as six distinct compositional voices unlock new possibilities in piano composition and performance.

    Laura Bowler's SHOW(ti)ME incorporates a fascinating combination of interdisciplinary elements to explore the disparity between performers' public personas and their private anxieties, including layers of pre-recorded music, sound effects and words, piano, and MiMU sensor gloves which Kanga uses to shape sound using motion and gesture. The MiMU gloves were also used to mould the sound of a Korg Prologue synthesizer on the dreamy, restless Hypnagogia (after Bach), a piece by Zubin Kanga inspired by listening to Bach half-asleep on long-haul flights.

    Counterfeits (Siminica) by Laurence Osborn uses the touch-sensitive keys of the TouchKeys keyboard - another brand new technology - to trigger live samples of Osborn's voice imitating a historical Romanian folk singer. The TouchKeys allows the vocal samples to bend and slide in pitch in reponse to Kanga's precise finger movements, exploring the intertwined relationship between 'voice' and piano. The TouchKeys keyboard makes an appearance again in Oliver Leith's Vicentino, love you - studies for keyboard, this time hooked up to the iconic Prophet Rev II synthesizer in an homage to a 16th-Century mictronal keyboard instrument.

    The stormy swirls of sound of Shiva Feshareki's Whirling Dervishes are produced using the British-Iranian turntablist's trademark ambisonic technology. Spatialized turntable improvisations respond to composed material on the piano, representing the ecstaticly meditative spinning of ancient Sufi tradition.

    To create her work DEVIANCE, Emily Howard used EEG brain-scanning equipment to measure listener's responses when played her music. The data gathered in this experiment was then combined with piano music and AI-generated sounds to create a piece which explores how our brain processes music on multiple levels.

    Throughout the album, what connects these six distinctive works is the piano, proving the instrument's astonishingly versatile and chameleon-like abilities that stand the test of time.

    "The double-disc release features associated music by a cohort of exciting British composers [...] a new wave of experimentalism" - Gramophone

    "Many instrument builders and music technologists have explored ways of expanding the capabilities of the piano, but their ideas have been forgotten, or at best confined to a museum display, because no repertoire was created. Without composers writing for new technology, it will not survive. By collaborating with many composers of our time, Kanga is doing everything possible to create exciting repertoire for himself, and a lasting legacy for his research." - I Care If You Listen

    "Wearing black gauntlets and clasping long metal batons, Zubin Kanga's look is a cross between a medieval knight and Edward Scissorhands. The pianist-composer activates unseen spaces in the belly of a grand piano, whipping invisible waves and playing the strings like a drum." - Big Issue

    "Kanga's project offers energetic, often ironic music […]. These compositions […] pass the test of one's ow time, being engaging and entertaining." – International Piano

    "Prepare to be dazzled […]. There's inventive and immersive stuff to be found here" – BBC Music Magazine

  • Tracklisting

      Disc 1

      Side 1

      • 1. SHOW(ti)ME
      • 2. Counterfeits (Siminica): I
      • 7. Whirling Dervishes (album version)

      Disc 2

      • 1. Vicentino, love you - studies for keyboard I: Candle blare
      • 8. DEVIANCE
      • 9. Hypnagogia (after Bach)