Alessandro Cortini: SCURO CHIARO album review
Alessandro Cortini, rock guitarist turned synth expert, is best known as a longtime member of the alternative rock pillars Nine Inch Nails. While this gig will surely occupy him, he has also earned a reputation for collaborating with luminaries from the darker worlds of ambient, drone and noise – artists such as Lawrence English, Daniel Avery and Merzbow. These collaborations helped shape the sound signature of Cortini’s solo albums, located somewhere between Purgatory and the Planetarium.
A lover of rare and vintage modular synths and drum machines, Cortini is well-equipped to deploy all the glassy drones, ascending noises, and electronic pulses he can imagine on releases like last year’s. Illusion of time (with Avery) and 2019 MASSIMO VOLUME. And just like his 2017 record Avanti focused on a synthesizer from the early 1970s made famous by Brian Eno, the palette from his latest album, SCURO CHIARO, focuses on a specific instrument. The difference this time is that Cortini created the instrument himself, and it catalyzes his lush, lean music into one of his most vivid albums to date.
As Pitchfork reported, the black hole at the heart of SCURO CHIAROThe Dark Galaxy of is the Strega, a semi-modular synthesizer and scribbled effects box of elegant but impenetrable runes. (“Strega” means “witch” in Italian. ”Working with the synth makers in the store at Make noise, Cortini has integrated his favorite features from various cult legendary modular platforms into one small unit. In other words, he loaded his musical consciousness into this machine and subjected it to his will – and if science fiction tells us anything, it will soon rise and destroy it. Waiting, SCURO CHIARO manages to show off the smoky but bright range of the unit.
Besides illustrating the vast potential of the Strega, the album is a centerpiece for Cortini. The sound often resembles a Ben Frost tonier, and it has a striking internal consistency: an emphasis on endless fluctuations of limited palettes, a nice way to hook harmonic flesh to sinewy rhythms, and a urge to slowly explode. tiny impulses in vast sound worlds. Each track offers something new: the music of “ECCO” sounds like a huge celestial harmonium, while the whoosh and wheezing and mechanical breathing of “CORRI” suggest a rampaging Xerox steampunk machine. “CHIAROSCURO” splashes plaintive stars on a bass dome, reminiscent of the cosmic idylls of ’70s bands like Harmonia, before a burst of radiant noise ignites her sense of peace.
Several highlights suggest the influence of classical composition as much as the exploration of reducers. “SEMPER” takes an alien rave to an almost symphonic climax, while Steve Reich’s music hovers over “NESSUNO,” as bass, punchy highs and a flute-like whisper relay relentless momentum. With all of these possibilities at hand, Cortini can look like a minotaur who has built his own maze. All along SCURO CHIARO, he walks his winding signal paths with confidence and vitality, eager to turn every corner, every button, and see where it might lead. Combining know-how and improvisation, his work always manages to move and surprise.
Buy: Gross trade
(Pitchfork earns a commission on purchases made through affiliate links on our site.)
Catch up with every Saturday with 10 of our top rated albums of the week. Subscribe to the 10 to Hear newsletter here.