Alessandro Cortini’s music casts the listener into an intricately rendered vortex of emotive dynamics, where he expertly maximises the boundaries of contemporary electronic music, both in his solo work and as a member of Nine Inch Nails.. His new album, ‘Volume Massimo,’ combines his fondness for melody with the rigour of experimental practice as he appears on the formidable and original independent label Mute for the first time.
Following on from 2017’s universally acclaimed album ‘Avanti,’ which after its headline performance at Berlin Atonal 2016 took in a series of lauded live audio-visual performances structured around an intimate presentation from his family’s private film archive. ‘Volume Massimo’ commences directly from this point—the whisper of their voices slip to the surface on the album’s opener, Amore Amaro, rendering an echo of ‘Avanti,’ a coda detached and adrift.
Volume Massimo Live A-V will debut at Berlin Atonal, and tour widely, including a headline date at Barbican, London with very special guest Suzanne Ciani.
From Amore Amaro, ‘Volume Massimo’ takes flight, journeying into a meditative process that gently twists time and memory in its wake with a deftly arranged ensemble of synthesizers saturated with sonic artefacts. Often the foreground is luscious, and hints at Cortini’s pop sensibilities, yet this comes with a wry promise, as the background takes us down a vast melancholic maze. Perhaps surprisingly, his latest work is interspersed with guitar motifs that act as a subtle punctuation for the oneiric landscapes that shimmer before us.
Batticuore is an exquisite and dizzying carousel that folds some of Cortini’s bolder guitar work into a glorious pop epic, while La Storia ascends the same heights via a different route, pitch-shifting and layering a synthetic lead with a finely tuned noisescape before giving way to the mournful grind of Sabbia. Boldly presented with richly saturated imagery by Emilie Elizabeth and Raki Fernandez, ‘Volume Massimo’ is a work as confident as it is tender, and its cover proclaims this.
Never falling prey to needless elaboration or digression, Cortini composes with a determined will to take what is felt through music as a map for life’s journey. It is in this sense that ‘Volume Massimo’ departs from a conceptual hierarchy and aims for the heart with a minimalist’s arrow.
I’m quoting Alessandro in saying that music is “a manifestation of your emotions, or a way for emotions to be placated or dealt with” – his music resonates profoundly with me for this reason. Avanti was a deeply personal, emotive show and I expect nothing less from Volume Massimo.