Born in Sydney, Australia, and based in London since 2007, pianist and composer Zubin Kanga (b. 1982) is Lecturer in Musical Performance and Digital Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London.
His new album, Cyborg Pianist, features six new works commissioned as part of a large-scale research project that examines, as Kanga puts it, “the future of the piano and the many possible ways it can be extended.” These include the shaping of sound in air using sensor gloves, composing with AI-generated sounds, and the incorporation of synthesisers, particularly the TouchKeys keyboard and Sequential Rev II Prophet.
Oliver Leith (b. 1990) has used these two synthesisers to recreate the archicembalo, a microtonal keyboard instrument invented in 1555 by Italian composer and music theorist Nicola Vicentino (1511–1576). Leith composed a suite of seven studies, Vicentino, love you, performed here by Kanga on the synthesisers. Other highlights include Whirling Dervishes by Shiva Feshareki (b. 1987), who uses turntables and electronics to create an immersive, abstract sound world that complements a shimmering piano part.
Emily Howard (b. 1979) continues her longstanding interest in and commitment to exploring the experimental possibilities of the music and science nexus with DEVIANCE. The work focuses on the manner in which the brain responds to shifts and deviations in music, particularly unexpected ones.
Kanga’s own Hypnogogia (after Bach) works its way up to a counterpoint explosion on a Korg Prologue synthesiser, bringing this innovative set of new works to a joyous conclusion. The recording’s sonic quality is particularly good, with the use of 360˚surround sound techniques ensuring that every nuance is transmitted.
Title: Cyborg Pianist
Works: Music by Emily Howard, Oliver Leith, Shiva Feshareki et al.
Performer: Zubin Kanga p
Label: NMC RECORDINGS NMCD279 (2CD)