- Alessandro Cortini's ambient synth music can veer from the sweet to the sinister. The trio of Forse albums he recorded for Important Records tended towards romantic melodies, voluminous tones and a touch of bombast. His Hospital Productions LPs were dark and distorted, more logically connected to his role in Nine Inch Nails. Earlier this year he returned to Important Records with Japanese noise titan Merzbow for a record that was, unsurprisingly, more abrasive.
Cortini may turn his hand to a number of different sounds across his various projects, but as a solo artist, he tends towards sensitive, plaintive composition. That's especially relevant on his latest LP. Avanti, which means forwards or onwards in Italian, is a reflection on youth inspired by Super 8 home videos that Cortini recently rediscovered. Certain tracks are bookended with audio snippets, presumably from the same source, making this a highly personal, inwardly focused body of work.
Cortini's approach is defined by density, and that can be felt explicitly on "Perdonare," with its thick layers of harmony sinking into a quicksand pad that churns underneath. At times the effect is cloying, as though the music is gasping for air. The strafing bleeps of the next track, "Aspettare," feel airy by comparison. Still, the searing drones are not far behind as the track crescendos in a jaw-clenching buzz of sawtooth waves.
Avanti feels most natural when turning to wistful moods. "Vincere" has the same wall-of-sound intensity felt elsewhere on the record, but the chord progressions better frame the fuzzy memories of childhood innocence. "Iniziare," while slow to unfurl its low-frequency hums, is gentle and cosy, like curling up with a favourite blanket or hiding in a secret den.
"Getting back to that purity should be everyone's ultimate goal in life," says Cortini, who was talking about "Vincere"'s video, where he's seen as a smiling young boy. In the album's emotional push and pull between optimism, hope, sadness and nostalgia, Cortini seems to imply such a goal is not straightforward to come by. At times the method feels a little heavy-handed—45 minutes of such intensely rich synth tones can leave the mind feeling a little bloated afterwards—but there's no doubt he has the means to express raw emotion in a relatable, immediate way.