SANDRO PERRI CD release party with NAT BALDWIN and ANNA LINDA SIDDALL at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick), Wednesday (October17), 8 pm. $10. 416-923-8137. Rating: NNNNN
Earlier this year, boundary-test ing Sandro Perri thought he'd try something rarely attempted in front of a Polmo Polpo audience.
Throwing caution to the wind, the daring Perri interrupted the usual program of entrancing electronic werping for some full-on singing. This wasn't simply a matter of subtly weaving in some crudely manipulated vocals. Nope, he was actually crooning real songs verses, choruses, the whole bit in the eerie falsetto of Skip James, no less.
It could've gone very badly with the assembled crowd of Constellation label loyalists, and there was no telling what sort of heavy sighs and looks askance he could have faced. Yet apart from a few furrowed brows, Perri's unscheduled vocal turn went over much better than anticipated. Not a single folding chair was hurled stageward, nor were any Godspeed T-shirts symbolically torched, and no one demanded a refund.
"I was totally expecting something like that," saying Perri, laughing over his cellphone. "I was sure it was going to cause a great divide, but the people who like the older instrumental recordings have been saying they really enjoy the newer stuff. I guess I've got a pretty well-mixed audience, split evenly between men and women, the younger and older, who are into jazz, electronic, folk and pop. It's definitely not all dudes with beards who only listen to experimental music. I'm sure if you looked online you could find some 21-year-old ranting about what I'm doing, but I haven't seen anything like that yet.
"When I hear someone singing, I really love it when I can get some sense of their personality, whether it's good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable. I like that element of relative transparency, and I would hope that comes across in what I've done on Tiny Mirrors (Constellation), although it's pretty nerve-racking for me, which is why I shied away from it for a long time. I'm certainly not even comfortable putting a photo of myself on the CD sleeve."
While we're on the topic of the CD cover, one of the more intriguing aspects of Tiny Mirrors is that it's credited to Sandro Perri rather than Polmo Polpo, which suggests that Perri may be more concerned with drawing lines between his various projects than the people listening to them are.
"The whole question of why Tiny Mirrors isn't a Polmo Polpo recording is totally valid and one that I don't have a clear and easy answer for, other than that I wanted to try making some distinction between what were very different approaches to making music. I felt I needed to keep my various projects in separate, artificial areas where I could continue exploring certain kinds of ideas and remain focused.
"Polmo Polpo typically involves heavily processed sound, and the associated instrumental music is more about endurance. At this point, releasing my more singer/songwriterly music under my own name makes sense. But I get the feeling that eventually things will start to cross over and the self-imposed dividing lines will dissolve, and I may realize trying to keep things separate is pointless.
"I understand that working under different names is a terrible move from a marketing perspective, particularly if you're trying to build a career, but those considerations aren't often at the top of the list for me."
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Sandro Perri found that rather than trying to write out each minute part of every song on Tiny Mirrors, it was more adventageous to leave things open, allowing room for happy accidents
In addition to numerous alternate takes on each track, there were a few songs recorded for Tiny Mirrors which didn't make the final cut.