Having first met in 2007 while working together on indie rock band Noah and the Whale’s debut album, nearly a decade transpired before Tom Hobden and Eliot James collaborated on an “ambitious” orchestral album of their own called Roam. That record, inspired by a love of late and neo-Romantic composers, precipitated the formation of a new modern classical band out of a desire create a more considered sound primarily focused on piano and strings. Since then, Hobden & James have established a style and approach for Pêtr Aleksänder over the course of a number releases ranging from album and EPs to singles and remixes. All of this has informed the process that led to the development of Collage, a collection of songs written late last year during an intensive month together in the studio which involved the duo sitting down at a piano each morning, either together or individually to write and then blending in strings, synths, and other electronic textures to create an intimate but cinematic anthology of musical stories.
Take for example “King’s Cross, After Dark”, a musical imagining of the famous central London station during the quiet hours while the city sleeps. A faint hum of departing rail cars and disembodied voices echoing in the background set the scene as gentle piano lines frame a narrative told in a beautiful flourish of swelling strings before receding into the silence of the night – a compelling film for the mind spanning less than three minutes from start to finish, but resonating for much longer.
That’s the wonderful thing about writing instrumental music, you can reflect a mood, and tell a story without saying a word which can actually sometimes be more intimate and eloquent. For us the album tells it’s own little stories, catalyzed by our own experiences whilst writing, and we invite the listener to attach their own narrative to the music, either as individual pieces or as a whole.
Collage was mastered by Guy Davie and releases September 17, 2021on Moderna Records featuring generative artwork by Iskra Velitchkova.