Chiming bells and a lone piano set the scene in “Fantasia Opening”, as if summoning a gathering to take place. Different instruments answer the call …
Thus, we are introduced to the first single from The Whole World Laid Out Before Me, the forthcoming new album by Pêtr Aleksänder, an alternative modern classical project from the musical duo Tom Hobden and Eliot James. We are told that when they sat down to make the record, they were a bit lost as to what exactly they hoped to achieve – “There is a lot of contradiction in the world right now – We seem to be advancing in some ways but going backwards in others – so it was hard to distill something from that into writing an album.”
Giving further insight into how things came together, the band explains that they found “the missing piece in our sonic puzzle” in the form of a cheap clarinet picked up in a charity shop which, despite not having played one before, they used to deliberately introduce an imbalance to their process as a foil to their characteristic lush piano and string arrangements. In addition, rather than arranging the compositions for performance by an ensemble, they made the choice to play all the instruments on the record themselves to give it a more intimate sound.
We have tried to paint a reflective journey across the album. Light and playful at times, dark and brooding at others but at all times meditative, hopefully encompassing and contemplating the constantly changing mood of the world & time in which the album was written and laying it all out before the listener.
Listening to the subtle intricacies and clever counterpoints woven around the sweet melody at the heart of “Fantasia Opening”, we have all the evidence we need that Tom & Eliot found what they were looking for and then some. Have a listen for yourself here in this exclusive preview prior to its release tomorrow.
The main piano theme for this track was actually written in the period between releasing our last album and writing this one. It was actually the initial flame that sparked the rest of the album process so it’s very fitting that it is the first release from the LP. It also contains a hidden nod to our Triptych piano series. Top marks to anyone who can spot it!’
Links: Pêtr Aleksänder | Moderna Records
The Whole World Laid Out Before Me will be released November 4 via Moderna Records where you can also find several other works by the band including Collage (Sept 2021), Remains of the Day (Feb 2021), and the Triptych for Piano series volumes I, II, and III.