The curtain dropped on the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival, but not before the s t a r g a z e orchestra’s flawless performance of Boards of Canada’s early album Hi Scores delighted a packed Leith Theatre.
S t a r g a z e, a multi-talented and classically-trained group of European musicians (founded by the highly regarded Berlin-based conductor André de Ridder and friend Emanuel Florakis), have put their spin on one of Boards of Canada’s most memorable studio albums. It was effectively a homecoming gig for the electronic duo who started out in western suburbs of the capital.
Brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin no longer play live, and in fact only ever did for a small window of their career. This performance was therefore an unmissable opportunity for those raised on their downbeat and nostalgic electronica to experience their music with the twists and imperfections of a live performance.
Welcomed on stage at an unusually early time of 5pm, with anticipatory calls and applause, they settled into their rhythm quickly with the title track Hi Scores. It was a decent example of their creative approach to reproducing classic BoC sounds.
Percussion from drumming the body of an electric guitar, and the rhythmic ripping of newspaper provided some of the “cherry on top” additions to the already rich orchestral production, and kept the audience hooked in the absence of any substantial video or lighting effects.
Perhaps because of this the orchestra weren’t afraid to use the space and their bodies in the performance, the members clapping and stomping to give the performance of Nlogax a different dimension.
An early highlight was the way in which the vocal sample of Turquoise Hexagon Sun was created from calling into the bell of the French Horn, producing a sound uncanny in its likeness of the original recording.
The performance built towards the heavily layered, relaxed crescendo of Everything you do is a balloon, just as it felt things were really hitting their peak. Perfect timing to switch things up.
S t a r g a z e left the stage for a moment before returning to fire back into tracks from Tomorrow’s Harvest and Music has the right to children, eventually bringing things to a serene close in fitting BoC style with Olson.
While the crowd hummed the melody, each instrument dropped out in turn until it was just those in the crowd creating the music, conducted from those on stage. It acted a little bit like a yoga-inspired breathing exercise to chill everyone out before letting us all back out into the harsh afternoon light of 6pm!
Another fantastic EIF performance, and an excellent way to draw this year’s festivities to a close.
When can we do it all again?
Images: Ryan Buchanan