Once in a while, an album comes out of the blue and really bowls you off your feet. The last time it happened to me was when an unknown-at-the-time Arcade Fire put out their debut long-player Funeral, a record so unique and fully realized that it almost seemed too good to be true. Sandro Perri isn’t exactly a newcomer – the Toronto-based producer has been churning out critically-acclaimed albums, firstly as Polmo Polpo and more recently under his own name, for over a decade – but his electronically-enhanced minimalist folk drones had never really struck a chord with me; consequently, Perri’s latest full-length, Impossible Spaces, comes as the most welcome kind of surprise. A sprawling six-part song-suite encompassing jazz, folk, modern classical, soulful pop, post-rock and electronica, Impossible Spaces is simply stunning, a damn-near perfect record that sees Perri coming into his own not just as a performer, but as a songwriter and composer too; for while these tracks ebb and flow at their own unhurried pace, Perri guides them toward a conclusion with a lazer-guided focus and attention to detail that validates the album’s four-year gestation period. Coupling syrupy R&B synths and rippling guitars to precise, minimal funk and Latin-flavoured rhythms, the album tips its hat to contemporaries like Dirty Projectors, the Sea & Cake and Tortoise, but with fluttering string and woodwind arrangements and Perri’s wandering, impressionistic vocal melodies taking a prominent position, a more accurate comparison would be Tim Buckley’s bohemian blues or the freewheeling cosmic pop of Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison. Impossible Spaces sounds both instantly familiar and startlingly original, timeless but defiantly forward-facing, but to try and describe its wondrous charms in any great detail could not do it justice; suffice to say it’s a magical listen, and a very strong contender for 2011’s “album of the year” title.
Listen: “Love And Light” http://soundcloud.com/constellation-records/sandro-perri-love-and-light
Impossible Spaces is out October 18 on Constellation Records