Alessandro Cortini

Volume Massimo

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Throughout his solo albums for vanguard experimental labels like Important Records and Hospital Productions, as well as his extensive work with Nine Inch Nails and Ladytron, Alessandro Cortini has always fused technical mastery with pure emotional expression. Volume Massimo is his first album for Mute, and it pulls the pop elements of his compositions into a much clearer focus without actually being a pop album. While earlier recordings like Sonno and Risveglio seemed fragile and distant, this one is far more upfront, with haunting melodies leading most of the pieces, and a steady sense of progression throughout. Cortini's vibrating synth tones, coated in a tactile wash of fuzz, are often accentuated with wintry guitar textures, and even a few sly riffs. "Let Go" keeps up the suspense with a faintly thumping rhythm box and shades of vocoders, seemingly acting as a prelude to elevated drama. "Batticuore" is where things start to get intense and somewhat fearsome, particularly when the danger-signaling melody blooms with richly layered distortion. "Momenti" is a woozy hallucination with a grandiose, Vangelis-like melody hobbling through a minefield, and some Mellotron-sounding tones snaking out. Most impressive is "Sabbia," where drum machines trudging in a sandy echo chamber are gradually joined by a blown-out, grief-stricken melody, managing to recall what was both thrilling and disorienting about witch house during its brief moment of glory.

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