s t a r g a z e on reimagining Boards of Canada's Hi Scores

This article is from 2018.

s t a r g a z e: 'For me, Boards of Canada might be number one'

credit: Maarit Kytöharju

Guitarist and composer Aart Strootman explains why the electronic EP was ripe for an orchestral treatment

Contemporary Dutch collective s t a r g a z e are grounded in contemporary classical but readily expand to absorb myriad genres. They have worked with Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Matthew Herbert, These New Puritans, Pantha du Prince, Bryce Dessner (The National) and many more over the years. For this year's Edinburgh International Festival, they are reinterpreting Boards of Canada's early EP Hi Scores. s t a r g a z e's guitarist, arranger and composer Aart Strootman tells us about the project:

'I've always been interested in everything released on the Warp label. I'm a huge fan of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher and via them found Boards of Canada. I think everybody has albums they keep going back to and for me Boards of Canada might be number one. It has an orchestral quality even though it's produced by synthesisers.

'There will be 12 musicians in total [for this Edinburgh performance]. One side is strings with bass and the other is a woodwind section. For this particular programme we added electric guitar and because it's so groove-orientated, percussion and drums.

'[Hi Scores] is built on computers but as soon as you have to translate that to drums or percussion there are endless possibilities, but you are also limited because some of the synthesised sounds cannot be remodelled with analogue instruments. So on one side there's the question of how do we recreate it with our instruments? And the other question is where are we limited?

'We have to embrace the fact it has to be played with orchestral instruments. You want to stay loyal to the original but actually by combining certain instruments or creating synergy between woodwind and strings, you can get quite close to the synthesised quality. I also used a lot of theatrical elements to emulate certain sounds, for example using a broom or ripping paper, because it came close to what I heard on the recording, and also made it a lot of fun to play and to watch.'

Leith Theatre, 25 Aug, 5pm, £20

Boards of Canada’s ‘Hi Scores’

Berlin-based classical collective, s t a r g a z e have teamed up with an extraordinary mix of musical talents over the years; Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, The Magnetic North, Julia Holter, Nils Frahm, Matthew Herbert and many more. They are turning their focus to Scotland this time, to pay a very special homage to Boards…

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