Cyborg Pianist (NMC Recordings)

September 29, 2023

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.​‍

About the Album



1. Laura Bowler SHOW(ti)ME
Zubin Kanga (piano, voice, MiMU gloves and electronics)​

2-6. Laurence Osborn Counterfeits (Siminică)
Zubin Kanga (piano and TouchKeys keyboard)​

7. Shiva Feshareki Whirling Dervishes
Zubin Kanga (piano), Shiva Feshareki (turntables/immersive electronics)​


1-7. Oliver Leith Vicentino, love you – studies for keyboard (‘L’antica musica ridotta alla

moderna prattica 2’)
Zubin Kanga (TouchKeys keyboard and Sequential Prophet Rev II synthesizer)​

8. Emily Howard DEVIANCE
Zubin Kanga (piano and electronics)​

9. Zubin Kanga Hypnagogia (after Bach)
Zubin Kanga (piano, Korg Prologue synthesizer, MiMU gloves and electronics)

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 (Siminică) 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.