Deerhoof Chamber Variations by stargaze and Greg Saunier (2015)

Deerhoof Chamber VariationsComposed by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier and performed by Berlin based experimental ensemble stargaze, Deerhoof Chamber Variations offers up a wonderful classical re-working of ten of the San Francisco experimental noise rockers original works. Initially commissioned for Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente, with live performances taking place in 2013, Saunier took a collection of songs that he himself had written and re-composed them to be played using classical instrumentation.

Using exactly the same notes as the original versions, Saunier re-arranged the songs structurally by removing repetitive sections and then shortening them down to between 1-3 minutes in length. stargaze then adapted the compositions to fit the skill set of their particular line-up, with Saunier joining them in Berlin to produce the EP. Choir-like vocals have also been added to the majority of the pieces, which works well alongside the tastefully arranged instrumentation that includes horns, strings, brass and piano.

Nine of the pieces featured are taken from the bands most creative song writing period between 2003’s Apple O’ and 2008’s Offend Maggie, with the lead single of sorts “Data”, for which a video has also been made, taken from their second LP, 1999’s Holdypaws. Among the highlights are “Rainbow Silhouette of the Milky Way” and “Giga Dance”, the originals being some of their most challenging pieces of music, with both re-workings retaining what’s great about them while also being quite pleasant on the ears. In all though, the entire 19 minutes Deerhoof Chamber Variations is a highlight, with each version revealing the fantastically fun rhythms and melodies which underpin and bind Deerhoof‘s music together.

It’s not the first time that the music of Deerhoof has been re-imagined, with their 2004 album Milk Man being performed as “part ballet, part surreal performance art, and part rock show” by North Haven Community School in Maine, USA in 2006. The band even came along to offer tips during the rehearsal process. It’s also not the first time stargaze, founded by conductor André de Ridder, have collaborated with other musicians, adding Deerhoof to a list which includes The Dodos, Julia Holter, Owen Pallett and Nils Frahm.

Released: 04 December 2015

Label: Transgressive

Rating: 9/10

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