First off, I'd like to say that Sandro Perri's new album Tiny Mirrors is one of the most nicely-produced releases that I've heard in some time. It's airy and open and sounds like you've been plopped down in the middle of a basement room, surrounded by people just playing their instruments and singing. Perri, of course, is otherwise known as Polmo Polpo and one-half of Glissandro 70, but in the past couple years he's found himself moving in a slightly different direction, creating more singer/songwriter style work with a rotating group of friends and musicians. His Plays Polmo Polpo EP came out last year on Constellation and showed off a bit of this new angle, and a European tour EP furthered it.
Tiny Mirrors is his official debut full-length, and he's joined by another large group, who add flutes, synth, vocals, clarinet, lap steel, trombone, euphonium, cello and drums. Although there's obviously amplification of the electric instruments, there's no distortion used (to my ears, anyway) on the release, and it only adds to the roomy and open quality of the recording in general. Opener "Family Tree" makes all of the above apparent right away as quiet, shuffling drums saunter around with twinkling Casio keys, guitar, and euphonium bleats. Perri adds his sleepy-sounding falsetto and the track just sort of drifts along in a dream-like state.
"City Of Museums" strips things back to a one-man show, with Perri playing a kick drum along with acoustic guitar and singing. The track has the familiar tint of several 70s male singer/songwriters without really sounding like anyone in particular, which can be said for the album as a whole as well. In terms of dynamics, there's nothing dramatic, and the group certainly doesn't rely on volume or feedback to make a point. Instead, there's moment after moment of tiny musical revelations, such as the odd bass modulations, horn accompaniment, and woozy feel of "You're The One" or the gorgeous vocal melodies of "Mime" offset with ultra-subtle, but layered instrumentation.
The group even slides into a sort of mutant neo-soul on "Love Is Real," but it doesn't sound like a reach at all as the damaged guitar of Chenaux swirls together with wispy, modulated synth. Whereas group artists often go off on their own to create solo albums, Perri has taken the opposite path over the past couple years, inviting friends to add to his murky electronic work as Polmo Polpo and now giving over a lot of control to musicians who have filled-out Tiny Mirrors with sounds that veer toward sheer improvisation at times (without being too flashy). It's a unique listen, veering towards the understated and even unobtrusive side of the musical spectrum, but it will nonetheless have you coming back to it.