Alessandro Cortini is an Italian-born musician who came to the US to study guitar at the Musicians Institute. He turned to keyboards and synths after graduating and never looked back. He’s the guy bands bring in when they need someone versatile to take on tour, or to help in the studio. He’s worked with Muse, Christina Aguilera, and Ladytron. But his biggest gig is being a touring member of NIN starting in 2005. He’s worked with NIN both on tour and in the studio for the better part of 15 years, as well as playing in the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross side project How To Destroy Angels.
Cortini has also been putting out solo album under his own name for just under a decade. On his solo works, Cortini makes densely-layered electronic records with vintage analog and modular synthesizers, bringing to mind artists like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis. It’s a quieter, more nuanced musical world than that of NIN, and one you can easily get lost in.
On his latest, Scuro Chiaro, Alessandro Cortini works heavily with the Strega, an experimental modular synth and effects box. The Strega is the brainchild of Cortini and made by the company Make Noise. Though a chaotic little box, Cortini wrangles it in to make a beautiful and complex electronic album.
Album opener “ECCO” comes to life with an electronic pulse as buzzing synth rises from the mix. As the song rolls on there’s elements of contemporaries like Sinoia Caves and Rival Consoles. The Strega makes for a noisy, hissy sound that gives the music an aged, not-of-this-world feel. “CHIAROSCURO” blends brass-like synth tones into an almost triumphant piece. I’m reminded of Vangelis’ Blade Runner score; a mix of the otherworldly and melancholy. “CORRI” almost has a rock organ sound, as if Jan Michel Jarre and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord combined their powers in some off-world colony recording studio.
The two long form pieces, “SEMPRE” and “NESSUNO” both clock in over 8 minutes and chug and hiss with both dystopian doom and deep space expanse. Both of these are tracks we work up to on the album and have a very cinematic feel, as if scoring some sci fi epic.
Scuro Chiaro is Alessandro Cortini in his element. As a collaborator he serves the artist and their vision, but on his own the sky’s the limit as Cortini builds massive music worlds. This is electronic music for headphones and for zoning out.
7.9 out of 10