Alessandro Cortini in London

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  • Fresh from his performance at Berlin Atonal a few days earlier, Alessandro Cortini stood in front of a sold-out audience at London's Café OTO. Some of the crowd would have been familiar with his work as a touring member of Nine Inch Nails, while others were perhaps better acquainted with his more recent solo albums on Hospital Productions and Important Records. The venue had ordered a specific soundsystem for this night of drone electronics, but it hadn't turned up. The warm-up act, found-sound enthusiast Shelley Parker, stuck to her artistic principles and decided she wasn't comfortable with playing, though Cortini went ahead as planned. Admittedly, the in-house system didn't do justice to the Italian's full-bodied sound. He pensively tweaked knobs on an array of micro-synths, effects modules and hand-triggered guitar pedals, producing sounds very much like those found on his recent albums, Risveglio and Sonno, as well as the older Forse series. Dark and devastating though they are on record, the details in his warm drone tracks were lost on the system, while later moments of noise sounded harsh on the ears. Warped visuals, which recalled NIN's industrial atmospheres, complemented the audio. There was a certain consistency to the music over the course of the night, with Cortini employing three-step arpeggiations at regular intervals. This wasn't quite the overpowering sonic experience I was expecting, but there was still plenty to take from the Italian's strong, analogue performance.