Machine Dreams (Zubin Kanga)
Zubin Kanga (piano/electronics) (Nonclassical)
Works by Tansy Davies, Nwando Ebizie, Alex Groves, Robin Haigh, Ben Nobuto, Alex Paxton et al
Zubin Kanga (piano/electronics)
Nonclassical (digital only) 70:03 mins
The concept behind pianist, composer and technologist Zubin Kanga’s album Machine Dreams was to bring together international experimental composers under the umbrella of a ten-track recording, illustrating sci-fi and contemporary themes. Among the cutting edge toys were pioneering sensor technology, the use of artificial intelligence, biosensors and a range of keyboard and hybrid instruments. Inevitably, therefore, there are combinations of sounds that blurred the edges between music and technology.
That said, the timbres themselves don’t sound particularly new to my ears – some are drawn from 1980s pop tunes and television sci-fi programmes from that era. The project conveys witty and deep ideas, however, displaying the complexities of the human mind as well as the wonder and awe of this world. Tansy Davies’s piece, for example, Star-Way illustrates a walk across a sacred mountaintop at night while gazing up at the stars, Single Form (Swell) by Alex Groves conveys a sense of a mass of water, and the humour in the apparent self-help manual I Will Fix Myself (Just Circles) and vulgarity of Escape TERF Island made me smile.
Startling contrasts appear throughout, with many pieces clearly juxtaposed for this effect. Star-Way, for example, is an almost physical ‘breathing out’ after the overflowing energy of Car-Pig. Here there were sounds of sped-up bagpipes, something akin to a belch, a cockerel and very faint jazz references. In all, a stimulating – if challenging – aural experience.