A Man of Many Hats

April 2nd, 2012

Sandro Perri – Mercury Lounge – March 31, 2012

On paper, Toronto-based musician Sandro Perri is a bit of an enigma, having recorded under various aliases over the past decade (including Polmo Polpo and Glissandro 70, among others) and crafting a catalog of eclectic music ranging from ambient to folk to experimental jazz and beyond. But on Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, the performer with many disparate sides appeared under his own name, playing electric guitar and flanked by a four-piece band, modestly greeting the crowd as he began the title track from his 2011 album, Impossible Spaces, a seemingly straightforward presentation for a musician with such a layered bio.

Although the bulk of the songs Perri records under his given name (on Impossible Spaces and its predecessor, Tiny Mirrors) are largely mellow, evenly paced and softy sung, at times recalling Andrew Bird or Paul Simon, their instrumentation reveals the plethora of musical influences Perri has explored throughout his career. On Saturday, songs like “Double Suicide,” “Changes” and “How Will I?” were augmented by funk-inflected bass lines, washes of flute, keyboard loops and electronics and intricate drum beats, with drummer Blake Howard occasionally doubling up on drumsticks and playing with two in each hand.

During the extended outro of “Changes,” Perri paused from playing a jaunty guitar line, approached a spare keyboard and put together some fun abstract effects and loops until the song came to a climax and faded out. “That’s a fun one for us to do because we never get it right,” Perri humbly announced afterward (although, of course, the song sounded just right). “Wolfman”—a song that showcases Perri’s creative songwriting, expert guitar skills and nicely brings together some of the many influences he pulls from to incorporate into his latest musical incarnation—was a highlight. Although it’s anyone’s guess where Perri (or one of his alter egos) will find inspiration next, it’s a safe bet that the music will continue to explore some exciting musical territory. —Alena Kastin