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**Transparent turquoise vinyl** On his stellar debut LP for Mute, Nine Inch Nails keyboardist and formidable solo artist, Alessandro Cortini taps into a poignantly melodic yet ascetic vein of his prized, gauzy style. Volume Massimo, combines his fondness for melody with the rigour of experimental practice that follows on from 2017's universally acclaimed album Avanti. Eight tracks of deftly arranged synthesizers saturated with sonic artefacts and luscious pop sensibilities.
Surely well known to you lot for his trio of LPs with Important and a duo for Hospital Productions between 2013-2015, Volume Massimo marks a more pointed, melodic evolution of Cortini’s sound without losing sight of what made his solo work so gripping in the first place. It’s also worth noting the striking resonance of this new record with his work in NIN, as the relatively tighter, pop-wise arrangements feel to condense the wider arcs of his previous records into more concise structures that strongly recall the band’s harmonic aura, while the addition of textured guitars and pulsing undertow make it all sound a bit like NIN wrung thru a psych folk filter and produced by Pye Corner Audio.
Leading on two years from Cortini’s Avanti LP and following a pair of 2018 collaborations with Lawrence English and Merzbow, he strips it all down to fundamentals on Volume Massimo with a typically precise approach to the qualities of tone and texture in his music. In eight parts he coaxes his classic analogue synths and Fender and Ibanez guitars to copulate in loving, writhing formations of rhythmelodic cadence where melody and rhythm are inseparable, equally balanced sides of the same equation.
The album’s first side lures us into this intoxicatingly dense yet minimalist aesthetic with the quietly engrossing synth chatter of Amore Amato, which builds to a heart-swelling peak before calving off into the furtive cinematics of Let Go and a massive highlight in the bittersweet romance of Batticuore at the album’s core. That song feels like watershed for the rest of the LP, as Momenti stealthily brings the underlying, lysergic folksiness to the fore and in a jangling coda, while La Storia pushes that rustic ruggedness farther into a sort of kosmiche wilderness, and, ultimately, to crawl thru the cave systems of Sabbia and the burned out sleep tone of Dormi.