I had Meanwhile In Madland, Corti's sun-soaked debut album, on repeat for most of 2012. It was like an atomizer, gently filling a room with its summery aroma. It was a background record, but a lovely one. In his review of the record, Andrew Ryce was critical of the details but found something to admire in the youngster's sense of playfulness and irreverence, which made Corti someone to keep an eye on. He hasn't disappointed.
Corti started making music at age 11, and much of the Meanwhile In Madland material came from this early learning period. It was mostly written on a laptop and predates the gear-based approach he and D'Aquino take as Life's Track. Corti was linked with Fabio Corcos at Bosconi Records by D'Aquino, who himself was introduced to the label by Martino Marini (Mas_Prod). As Oli Warwick detailed in his Bosconi label of the month feature, Corti and D'Aquino then represented the squad's new blood. Bosconi have continued to be a base for the pair's Life's Track collaboration, with Corti stepping out solo on the label's Extra Virgin offshoot. Life's Track burst out of the gates with two eponymous four-track EPs in 2011, and there's been a slow trickle of releases ever since, but most of their sessions haven't been put out.
Online mixes are also a rarity for Life's Track, and Corti says he hates doing podcasts and press. This has helped fuel a sense of the mystique about the project. When they first started it was under a cloak of anonymity. Life's Track are best experienced live, but if you want to see them play—and you should if ballsy analogue sets are your thing—you'll probably have to go to Italy. The pair have barely left their home country for gigs in the last few years, except for a Bosconi Panorama Bar takeover in 2014 and a handful of other performances in Berlin and Barcelona. It's the same for Corti, who returned to Panorama Bar last May, though the rest of his solo shows were almost exclusively in Italy. "There are a lot of people here who make really good music," he says. "And I have to be honest, looking at Europe at the scene right now, the most interesting things are coming from Italians."
The countryside where he lives and works in "relative seclusion" couldn't be more suited to Corti's needs. "I can't live in another city right now," he says. "I want to live in Florence and not the centre of Florence, the countryside, because you can do your own thing here."
Corti's first passion was the drums, but he broke from the band he was in because of the group dynamic, preferring the solitary practice of electronic music making. "I am quite a hassle in the studio," he confesses. "I don't like to work with other people, I prefer to work by myself." So what's the relationship like with D'Aquino then? "That's different because we share Life's Track like it's another person. Life's Track makes his music, I make my music, Dukwa makes his music," he says. "It's weird because we are actually three people. I don't bring myself too much when I want to make music with Dukwa. When we are in the studio together we just have fun."
Corti has worked with Marini in the past, producing similar live jams with him, and then as a trio with D'Aquino as Knobold. Some of that music has been packaged up and released on Kontra-Musik and MUS Records. There's also the Tru West material, all of which came from a single visit to Marini's Berlin studio in 2012. But while the Knobold collaboration was a one-off, Tru West has grown into an ongoing collective, with revolving members including Corti's father and Stefano Meucci. It was founded on an improvised get together between Niccolò Rufo (Rufus), clarinet player Raffaele Amenta, Marini and Corti, with Marmo Music founder Matteo Tagliavini also involved.
There are no rules for Tru West. "If you like abstract, experimental music then this is the jam for you," Corti proudly says. There have been a few small shows to date, ad-libbed and not for the faint-hearted. Their debut performance took place at Meinblau Projektraum in Berlin as part of Berlin Arts Week in 2013. They followed this up with a group show at Loftus Hall to launch the two-part Dowc Series, which has since come out on Marmo Music. Free jazz could be a tentative description for the music they make, and there's tribal and folk influences also in there. Unlike the Life's Track recordings, which tend towards a more polished and club-focused sound, Tru West's wildness is right there on the surface.
You could say that it's present in everything Corti does. His productions have become more refined and technically adept, but his wayfaring approach has remained a constant. When Instant Broadcast, the LP that followed Meanwhile In Madland, came out, he'd already advanced through several setups and styles. If Meanwhile In Madland was wonderfully light and easy to digest, Instant Broadcast was a hearty meal, full of flavours that tickled a broader range of the palate. It set the bar for his solo work and deservedly nudged him a little more into the spotlight.
Talking about Instant Broadcast in genre terms doesn't really make sense. It's a dance-friendly record, with total bangers like "Slam The Laptop" and "Jingle Memo Jingle," but on the whole it's more of an iridescent ambient album that maintains the dreamy quality of Meanwhile In Madland, only the eyes-closed reveries are much more vivid. With Instant Broadcast he found a sweet spot between experimental and functional, resulting in some truly sublime and subtly outlandish music. It was a difficult album to top, which is probably why I found Kila a bit tough to take in on the first few listens. It lacked some of Instant Broadcast's finesse, and sounded a little scrappy, like it was in turmoil.
But that's the thing with Corti: no two records are ever the same. Speaking to FACT about Kila he said: "I took apart the setup I used to make this album. I've not made music for a month and a half. I want to move on, so I need to start again." To Corti, each record is its own separate entity. "I just want to enjoy myself," he replies when I ask if he ever thinks about his earlier work. "I can't stay making the same thing. Maybe one time I can go back. There's no back, no forward."
Kila revolves around a particularly venomous title track that spits its hi-hats at you in between caustic tape squeals and acid tweets and a guttural vocal chant. It's mean, and we're not used to mean from Herva. But it grows on you. I ask if he approached this album any differently. He says he's been studying electrical engineering for nearly two years and his desire to "mess with things" has had an effect. "I know better how things work, the nature of things," he tells me. "I guess that's the only difference in approach: I enjoy making music more now."
Kila sounds like it belongs on Planet Mu, and the label feels like an ideal fit for Corti: he's a bit of an outsider who's happy to be running away from the pack. "Planet Mu is really similar to my approach," he says. He's always admired the label and its roster—he'd initially sent Meanwhile In Madland to Planet Mu boss Mike Paradinas. They rejected it, so he went to another of his favourites, Rephlex. They told him they weren't taking demos anymore—but the music would be perfect for Planet Mu. "It makes me smile when I think about that period," he says. "These two were my dream, my end-goal. Planet Mu is a legendary label, so it is a dream to finally end up there."