Robin Hatch Is Recording a New Album on Keith Emerson's Steinway Piano

The 'T.O.N.T.O.' follow-up will be cut at the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project in Pennsylvania

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Sep 13, 2022

Last year, Robin Hatch captured the sounds of the world's largest analogue synthesizer with her album T.O.N.T.O., and a forthcoming LP from the Toronto-based composer and multi-instrumentalist will feature another sweet set of keys once played by the late Keith Emerson.

Hatch, who has recently been spotted singing and playing keyboards with Fucked Up, is currently crowdfunding a new solo piano album to be recorded on a Model D Steinway that was previously owned by the revered Emerson, Lake & Palmer keyboardist.

Emerson's Steinway piano is currently in the possession of the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project (EMEAPP), a "private museum, a critical learning center and a multi-media production studio" based in Harleysville, PA, that houses a curated collection of rare electronic instruments and stage gear.

In conversation with Exclaim! last year, Hatch shared how she toured the EMEAPP's collection during a day off in Philadelphia while on a 2021 US tour prior to releasing T.O.N.T.O.

Highlights for the artist included a Fairlight CMI, a wah pedal used by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, the organ played by Rick Wakeman on Yes classic "Roundabout," learning Wally DeBacker — known best as Gotye — sits on the centre's advisory board, and "a whole room dedicated to Emerson" and his instruments — including the Moog modular synth heard on the trio's 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery.
A standout piece in the collection was a dagger belonging to Emerson, which you can see housed in an ELP-branded sheath below. As Hatch told Exclaim!, "Something he used to do as a stage move — which is hilarious —was stab his organs and synthesizers on stage. That was his 'smashing the guitar,' just a super weird, organ guy move that I think only people that play keyboards can relate to. As a fan, it was quite awesome to get to play pretend with the dagger and the organ that had been smashed." Hatch writes in the crowdfunding campaign how the new music was composed this past May during a stay at a cabin in Ojai, CA. It's said to draw from both "minimalism like Philip Glass, [Erik Satie]," and "heavier traditional influences like Stravinsky and Rachmaninov." 

The composer, whose last solo piano album was a self-titled collection released in 2019, also points to the inclusion of "[Messiaen] modes, transcription of bird sounds that I ran through autotune and repitched," and influence from "more contemporary artists such as Nick Drake and Brad Mehldau." Of her environment, she adds, "Conceptually, the purpose of the cabin was inspired perversely by manifestos written off the grid during psychotic episodes. I am fascinated by the depths the brain will travel to in isolation."

You can read more about Hatch's latest work and donate to the album crowdfunding campaign here, ahead of reading Exclaim!'s interview with the T.O.N.T.O. creator.

Widely recognized as one of the most accomplished keyboardists in rock history, Emerson passed away in 2016 at age 71.

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