Berlin’s own orchestral collective, Stargaze, are celebrating their recent label signing with the new release, Deerhoof Chamber Variations. Devised as a flowing work of music, the 19-minute piece marks the latest in a succession of collaborations for this ensemble. The composition resembles an epic score straight from a magical kingdom, full of highs and lows, sinister and sweet sounds that are all created with the upmost delicacy.
Opening Deerhoof Chamber Variations in the most epic of ways is the big, building Rainbow Silhouette Of The Milky Rain. Striking the gentle balance of rise and fall with the use of violins, trumpets and heavy keys it sets the mood of what’s yet to come. Moving along is a subtle transition to Data, one of the longer tunes, starting off sweet and playful with breezy vocals floating above the melody before it goes south. As the track progresses the light nature begins to turn sinister, with the line, “careful with your dream, don’t scream” becoming more and more prominent as the beat deepens before ending devilishly with the haunting end line, “needs to destroy”.
A high point of this intriguing score is the journey that’s achieved in a few minutes. My Purple Past is one that accomplishes a lovely transition through the use of malicious sounding wood instruments that’s quickly washed away by a flurry of plucky strings to light the mood, which contrasts some of the others nicely. Sealed With A Kiss is another that tells a story in a very short space of time, starting off sprightly and ethereal it quickly turns sinister with a brass beat heightening the change. They’re magical little numbers that highlight everything Stargaze aims to achieve within this piece.
As a whole piece the work of Deerhoof Chamber Variations tells a subtle story with your own mind becoming the narrator. But once you delve into each mini score as an individual it’s quite easy to be left underwhelmed, bar a few each song is pretty much over before it’s really begun. In the grand scheme of a continuous piece, the snippet is perfect to set the tone, but it’s one that needs to be played through from start to finish to really appreciate where it’s headed.