Ride and Pêtr Aleksänder: Clouds in the Mirror review – a satisfying experiment
Clouds in the Mirror
Ride and Pêtr Aleksänder
In August 2019, UK band Ride (whose 1990 debut, Nowhere, has long been viewed as a shoegaze classic) released This Is Not a Safe Place, their second album since they reformed in 2014. The record was rightly acclaimed for its shrewd blend of 1960s garage/psych, 1990s guitar pop and smartly integrated Laurel Canyon harmonies.
Clouds in the Mirror is the same-but-different album, a work of seamless exploration that employs as its foundations the main vocals (by Mark Gardener and Andy Bell) of the original album tracks and invests them with neo-classical string, piano and synthesiser arrangements.
The people in charge of such treatments are Eliot James (producer for, among others, Two Door Cinema Club, Kaiser Chiefs, Plan B) and Tom Hobden (of the group Noah and the Whale). Under the moniker of Pêtr Aleksänder, James and Hobden have reinterpreted the songs by mostly focusing on whatever emotional sensibilities the vocals generate.
The overall result is a mash-up-made-in-heaven for fans of supremely harmonious electronica and hints of pop-psych, neither of which are undone by the featured voice excerpts. Indeed, tracks such as Clouds of Saint Marie, Shadows Behind the Sun, Repetition and the Friedrich Nietzsche-referencing Eternal Recurrence prove how satisfying such experiments can be.
Perhaps even better news? For the full ambient experience, the album is also released (digitally) as entirely instrumental.