This is the first full-length recording by Sandro Perri under his own name, following an E.P. on Constellation last year (on which Perri re-interpreted songs from his critically-acclaimed Polmo Polpo instrumental/electronic project). Working with some of Toronto's finest avant and improv players, Sandro has fully re-invented himself as a singer, lyricist and guitar player, and Tiny Mirrors is the culmination of this transformation - a highly personal collection of songs, shaped by an utterly original approach to composition, performance, and melodic and vocal phrasing.
Tiny Mirrors incorporates elements and sensibilities - albeit in subtle hues - as diverse as Vanguard-era Skip James (and his weary falsetto), post-tropicalia Caetano Veloso (the compositional twists), and the 60s-era axis of hybrid songwriters like Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Harry Nilsson and Fred Neil (whose "Everybody's Talkin'" is covered here, re-cast as a rumination on the 'epidemic' of second-hand experience). Perri's simultaneous guitar and kick drum playing is complemented by the cracked wah guitar of labelmate Eric Chenaux on several tracks, with brass, reeds, woodwinds, keys and percussion filling out the arrangements, courtesy of regular bandmates Ryan Driver, Marcus Quin and John Jowett. A handful of other Toronto players contribute on drums, trombone and cello.
Crucial to the album's sound is the fact that Perri gave up much control to the group dynamics, allowing some of the arrangements to develop out of the players' natural tendencies towards improvisation. "Love Is Real", for example, set to a fluid and amorphous backdrop of heavily phased 'neo-soul', was altered substantially by Chenaux's rhythmic re-configurations, while "Double Suicide" (of which the original version has not yet seen proper release) is presented here in an alternate form. Anchored entirely by drummer Blake Howard's in-studio restlessness, the original gets transformed from a brooding slow-burner into a strangely fractured bossa nova; a tricky polyrhythmic delight. Ending the record is a re-working of the lead-off track "Family Tree", here renamed "Mirror Tree" and consisting of only the core band, sans Perri altogether - a testament to the group's interpretive power.
Overall, Perri strikes the perfect balance of sophisticated writing (melodically and as a lyricist) and, with the help of his band, deceptively effortless, relaxed, unconstrained performance. These songs abound in subtle texture and flourish, and the burbling swirl of instrumental work is a through-line to his earlier recordings as Polmo Polpo, where a similarly simmering brew of interweaving melodies yielded such an original and seductive take on 'electronic' music. Perri brings the same originality, warmth, energy and intelligence to his eponymous singer-songwriter work; Tiny Mirrors pulses and froths and lounges and glides with inimitable ingenuity, genuineness, substance and style.
The album was beautifully recorded by Jeff McMurrich (Hidden Cameras, Constantines, Bruce Cockburn) at Hallamusic in Toronto. Two songs, and various overdubs, were recorded at Sandro's home studio, The Honey Pot.
Band: SANDRO PERRI
Title: Tiny Mirrors
Release Date: 24 September 2007 (Europe), 09 October 2007 (Rest of World)
1. Family Tree
2. City Of Museums
3. Double Suicide
4. The Drums
5. Everybody's Talkin'
6. The Mime
7. You're The One
8. White Flag Blues
9. Love Is Real
10. Mirror Tree
Sandro Perri: guitar, keys, percussion, vocal
Ryan Driver: flute, synth, vocal
Marcus Quin: bass, bass clarinet, drums, erhu
Eric Chenaux: electric guitar, lap steel
Doug Tielli: trombone
John Jowett: euphonium
Blake Howard: drums
Nick Fraser: drums
Nick Storring: cello
Recorded and mixed at Hallamusic in Toronto by Jeff McMurrich, Oct. 2005-Oct. 2006.
Tracks 2 + 4 plus additional overdubs recorded at The Honey Pot in Toronto by Sandro Perri .
Mastered at Greymarket in Montreal by Harris Newman.