Sandro Perri – “Some of my recordings are like a mosaic of the history of the song”

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Funnily enough, when we ‘met’ in 2006, I asked you about potential inspirations in “Like Heart Swelling” from the Penguin Café Orchestra, and you told me that you..

“…do like what I’ve heard of Penguin Café, but they are not an influence in any way. In fact it was another Italian journalist, Stefano Quario, who introduced them to me, because he thought there was a connection as well.”

Here, in the most funny photo you took, I see them with Mr. Bungle and Max Roach, “Africa Mix Tape”, “(Squall & Notes)”, “(We’re Having) Big Fun”, “Guh”… lovely set of mostly dubbed cassettes! Can you explain the most mysterious? Are these compilations done by you or friends? Is any of these still something you often listen to, or any influence?

These are mostly old tapes from 20-30 years ago, with the exception of “Squall”, “Big Fun” – which are mix tapes made by Craig Dunsmuir (Kanada 70/Glissandro 70) – and the Penguin Cafè mix that Stefano made. I’ve bought a few Penguin’s records since then… I love them. They have become more of an influence in the last few years.

Max Roach / Cecil Taylor duet album is nice, I listened to it a lot when I was younger, and again when Cecil Taylor died.

The “Africa Mix Tape” was sent to me by someone I sold records to many years ago. There are some phenomenal and still unreleased recordings (as far as I can tell) by Freedom Family on there that I like.

The Ween “Pure Guava” tape is special: it’s distorted because I dubbed it too hot when I was a kid. That’s how I’ve listened to it my whole life – I heard it clean once and was not too happy. The Fishbone tape was sold on tour, mid 90’s. The songs are great and all otherwise unreleased. The crown jewel in the picture is GUH – a group from Toronto who don’t sound like anyone else. My favorite song is “Rocky Balboa”. This is too rare for the internet. Very inspiring for me when I was younger. The drummer and one of the founders – Blake Howard – has played on most of my records and in my band for almost 15 years. He’s a force of nature, like a weather system if it played drums. Check out his solo album “Serious Repercussions”.

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In another photo I see three LPs I can’t recognize… what are these? why are exposed this way? It’s by chance or you like the artwork? It’s also interesting to see the old 10 inches (I guess) in the back, partially hidden in the dark…

That is the current listening pile. I turn them outwards like that because I like to listen to records for weeks at a time if I can. This reminds me of their presence. Naoki Zushi “III” is a bootleg copy of a very nice record released on Org, a label in Japan. I discovered this when I played there with Nagisa Ni Te a few years ago. They run Org, on which they have released their own beautiful music as well as the first record by Maher Shahlal Hash Baz. I found this bootleg in Montreal used and could not resist. Now I have it on CD and vinyl… not necessary. Just buy the CD on Org, direct from the label.

“Trust In Rock” is an archival recording of Blue Gene Tyranny and Peter Gordon in 1978. I love both of these artists and this record gives a little insight into how their music developed during that time period. It was recently issued on Unseen Worlds, a label I follow closely.

The 3rd cover to right is the recent issue of Sonny Sharrock’s “Ask The Ages”, for sure in my top 10 records of all time. I haven’t even listened to this copy because I know it by heart, I don’t need to play it. I just leave it out where I can see it all the time, to remind me who’s boss.

The crumpled 78’s have been following me around for years. I’ve never listened to them because I don’t have a 78 player. There’s a Miles Davis and a Charlie Parker in there.

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Well, you said that GUH’s record is too rare for  the internet, and you keep saying that you listen records for weeks and you know by heart that Sonny Sharrock’s album at the point that you don’t need to listen to it anymore. We live in an throwaway era, and music (files) are seen as disposable things. Your music, the more the time passes, seems to grow and grow in terms on micro-details, and your last album is incredibly layered, especially when listened by headphones, as I recently did. Is this something that comes out naturally for you, or you somehow plan to create a music that is so rich and ‘sculpted’ as a miniature? I saw Flaming Lips “Zaireeka” CD in your shelves, a good example of ‘exposed complexity’ of the layers/tracks of songs.

It comes from a combination of play and work, so, maybe you can say it comes out naturally with a lot of nurturing. There is also a lot of intuitive sculpting, “objective” assessment and editing. This process reveals new layers, details, opportunities and perspectives in the music. This can happen several times over for one song, and there can be several “versions” of the song happening at once, intersecting and overlapping. Some of my recordings are like a mosaic of the history of the song. I love the idea of “Zaireeka”. I’ve never listened to all the 4 CDs together!

[NOTE: Zaireeka consists of four Compact Discs/LPs designed so that when played simultaneously on four separate audio systems, they would produce a harmonic or juxtaposed sound; the discs could also be played in different combinations, omitting one, two or three discs. Each of its eight songs consists of four stereo tracks, one from each CD.]

I’m always really attracted by non-musical thing among the shelves: I see a bust of someone on the top of the LPs, and a DVD at the bottom. What are these? And the plastic box are for food? some of the interviewees here told me about their point of view on the connection between cooking an listening to music…

The bust is Michelangelo’s David (doneby my Uncle) and the DVD is Harry (Nilsson). The tupperware boxes are there because that is the table where things go when they need to be returned to their owners! It is a messy area, very low priority… I don’t go to the record shelves very often these days.

Sandro Perri is a musician and producer based in Toronto. He has released over a dozen albums of original vocal, instrumental, acoustic and electronic music and worked on countless other recordings in various creative and technical roles. Perri’s curious ear and love of re-invention have resulted in a strikingly diverse catalogue, exploring intersections of pop, folk, jazz, tropicalia, improv, minimalism, dance and electronic – but unified in their impeccable craftsmanship and unique creative vision. |

Sandro Perri - PHOTO

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