Gentle upright piano blues and sympathetic strings.
If you, like me, are wondering just who Pêtr Aleksänder is, let me confirm to you it isn’t an individual. It’s the name of duo Tom Hobden and Elliot James. Neither are Nordic but I can see where they are going with this naming convention. There is something of a perceived golden elixir that only Nordic modern composers drink from to create the most sensitive and delicate classical music. Pêtr Aleksänder is aimed squarely at that this demographic.
Each track is crafted as a specific mood and story, hence the name ‘Collage’. It really is a mix and match of thoughts but the style is largely under the banner of sympathetic sadness and nostalgia. The upright piano is beautifully recorded and often takes centre stage with its melody. This may sound odd but whilst the melodies themselves are lovely, it’s how everything else around it gently pushes you to a feeling or direction in sympathy. ‘In the Soft Light’ is a perfect example of this. The violin and strings have a lovely tone to them but the added atmospherics, gentle bells and tinkles all around it elevate the piece. Whether it’s the regal garden charm of ‘Westerly’ or the dreamy intimacy of ‘Cortege for Clouds’, it’s that attention to detail that shines through.
Possibly my favourite piece on the album is the serenity that is ‘Moving Thirds’. It contains possibly the most production on the album but it’s so worth it. The piano cascades a gentle trickle of high notes over slow-moving but emotive strings. This is all underpinned by a mushy drum loop that’s been softened into pillows. The song sounds decadent and ‘Fireworks in G’ has a similar luxurious feeling too. One other thing I really enjoyed about ‘Collage’ was how many of the tracks have quiet victories to them. Yes, they are relaxed and gentle classical thoughts, but they grow and reach their own mini triumphs. ‘King’s Cross, After Dark’ exemplifies this with its bluesy motif. It builds gently to a tiny climax and then breathes out as if you are entering the key to your front door. The music feels like home.
Whilst this second album from Pêtr Aleksänder may go under the radar on the first listen or two, it is a grower. When you want something to warm the heart, calm the mind and enjoy small victories – Pêtr Aleksänder has you covered. Beautiful.
Recommended track: Moving Thirds
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