Maximalist synth music that shows the Italian artist's deep connection to the Buchla.
Cortini's first instrument was the guitar, but he came face to face with a Buchla while on a video shoot with Nine Inch Nails (for whom he was a touring member from 2004-2008). "There had never been any instrument that engulfed me like that," he later recalled. The Bologna-born musician has put out six synth-focused solo albums under his own name, including 2017's Avanti, which explored ideas around music and memory inspired by old Super 8 home videos.
Cortini returns with Volume Massimo, which swaps Avanti's light touch for a heavier, more widescreen sound. This amped-up approach gives Cortini's instrumentals a sinister yet life-giving intensity. Volumo Massimo is Cortini's first solo album using guitar, and these organic embellishments help to expand the album's sound palette. On "Let Go," bright psychedelic squiggles cut through the creeping haze, while "Momenti"'s twangy guitar dissonance is a rebellious counterpoint to the track's uniform march and sweetly orchestral synths. On tracks like these, Cortini weaves guitar and analog electronics together seamlessly.
The LP subverts the hippie connotations that come with Buchla synthesisers. There are snippets of the real-life audio chatter that gave Avanti its warmth ("Amore Amaro," "Amaro Amore"), but an ominous mood pervades the album. The tracks that whirr and hiss with noise are among the most intriguing. The slow-burning industrial grind of "Sabbia" revels in distortion. "La Storia" is ablaze with portamento fuzziness. "Amaro Amore"'s barely-there blips dissolve into a wave-crash of white noise, while the end of "Amore Amaro" spits and burns with machine activity.
Volume Massimo embodies Cortini's deep connection with the Buchla. His commitment to melody, though it makes the album approachable, often detracts from the music's noisy (and more interesting) imperfections. Even if you follow Cortini's instructions to play the LP at "a very loud volume," the full heft of his sound fails to translate outside of its onstage setting, tangible from incredible footage of his recent audiovisual show at Berlin Atonal. Perhaps this is one of those albums that you simply need to hear live, really loudly, to appreciate.