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Alessandro
Cortini: AVANTI (Point of Departure)

Alessandro
Cortini’s latest album of synth excursions is incredibly solid. It
builds on the body of work he’s been producing on his own terms for
several years, all beatless and relying entirely on synth pads and
drones, but there is something more immediate about AVANTI than other
Cortini opuses I’ve heard. It lacks the bite found on most of his
Forse releases, and it’s not as looming or dark as 2015’s Risveglio.
Instead, AVANTI takes a cue from the unearthed home movies of his
father, images of which adorn the packaging of the album and the video clips he’s released so far. This
already gives the album a more human touch compared to the templated
abstraction of the Forse series or the severe high contrast mark
marking of Risveglio. Several tracks include disembodied samples of
Italian speech as sort of loose intros or outros, breaking up the
otherwise instrumental passages. The most immediate difference in
hearing opener “Iniziare” is the balance and clarity of the
music.

Largely gone is the distorted tremble of his Hospital
Productions material; even when it swells in scale and scope, its
coarser edges are treated more delicately, allowing it to bristle and
fuzz without sacrificing clarity. It brings with it a grandeur that
feels at once reflective and expansive, a vague cinematic nostalgia
that conjures up John Carpenter as much as Boards of Canada, but
without any of the pastiche one might associate with a likening to
those artists. “Perdonare” similarly swells to capacity rather
swiftly, with melodic elements that feel big and commanding. Its huge
crescendo recalls the toughness of his kinsman Ben Frost but without
the bravado. The most epic of all is the third cut, “Aspettare,”
whose progression feels more aspirational and ambitious. Its arpeggio
tones and drawn out pads continue to build on one another before it
reveals itself to be almost cosmic in scale.

What’s probably most
refreshing about the pieces of AVANTI is that while they somehow
suggest nostalgia by virtue of the sonic palette and a sort of
wistfulness, they don’t feel dour. They feel reaffirming, more like
meditations on a humanized past, present, and future than a cheap nod
to the surface of yesteryear. That comes through loud and clear on
big, swooning drones like “Nonfare” or “Vincere,” just two
more great tracks on an album with no weak spots. Highly recommended.

Buy it: Point of Departure | Boomkat | Apple Music | Bleep