Sandro Perri - Tiny Mirrors [Constellation - 2007]
Toronto's Sandro Perri has worked in the past under the name Polmo Polpo, producing music which skirted genres such as techno, ambient and jazzy post-rock. He's also added traditionally classical instruments such as the cello, within the context of somewhat danceable music.
Tiny Mirrors marks a departure from Perri's previous work for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the album centers around his vocals, which have barely been featured in any of his past work. Secondly, it's a structured collection of folky, mostly acoustic singer/songwriter tunes, a far cry from the wayward, yet modern music for which he has become known.
There's a loose, semi-improvised feel to the music, leading one to believe that the songs weren't over-rehearsed. The album was recorded over a year's time though, so perhaps the loose feel was an effect aimed for rather than happened upon by mistake. It certainly sounds as if the performers were given some room to roam around within the structure of the tunes. Tiny Mirrors comes off as casual as a result, which is probably the intention.
The production reinforces the casual atmosphere. It's bathed in reverb, and not too heavy on low end. Perri's voice is somewhat reminiscent of folk rocker M. Ward at his most bucolic. It's charming at first, but reveals its limitations over the course of the album. There's little variation in tone, coupled with the fact that Perri fails to convey the emotion required to do justice to his personal themes.
As for the songs themselves, they are interesting because though traditional elements are incorporated, they don't include hooks or obvious, stereotypical lyrics. Perri's poetic lyrics are the most interesting thing about Tiny Mirrors, in fact.
Unfortunately, the music doesn't sustain interest on its own, and the production, though somewhat unique, gets old after a while as well. The songs fall victim to the concerted attempt to create a casual mood, coming across as sketches rather than finished pieces. I really wanted to enjoy this album, as on the surface it is an earnest attempt by a talented artist to change directions. Perri is on the right track, and Tiny Mirrors, despite its faults functions fine as a pleasant diversion, if not an indispensable one.