Alessandro Cortini (I)

Live A/V

ph. Emilie Elizabeth


Musician, producer, composer and instrument designer, he is one of the most important figures in contemporary electronic music. Born in Italy and living in Lisbon after many years in the United States and Berlin, Alessandro Cortini is world-renowned as a member of the revolutionary industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, where he writes and arranges the electronic parts. More recently, he has returned to the instrument that captured his attention in his youth, the guitar. While recording or touring with NIN, Cortini cultivated several solo projects that rose to prominence and received critical acclaim. Under the moniker Sonoio, he released a series of synth-pop albums. Under the aliases Skarn and Slumberman, he created a parallel world of electronic music with the inimitable style for which he is recognised today. Collaborations with Merzbow, Don Buchla and Lawrence English showed new aspects of Cortini’s artistry that capture his capacity for experimentation. But the apex of his output is most passionately felt in the works released under his real name, starting with the triptych of albums for Important Records, 2013’s ‘Maybe 1’, which was followed by ‘Maybe 2’ and ‘Maybe 3’. Carefully shaped drone pieces evolve effortlessly with a keen sense of pop: this is what is outlined in the two albums released on Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions around the same time, ‘Sleep’ and ‘Awakening’, works that inhabit a darker, more abstract terrain. With ‘Avanti’ in 2017, there is an explicit entry into a more intimate dimension, something already perceived but remained blurred and on the fringes until now. Cortini’s ability to immerse himself in deeply moving music is sustained and tensioned through the use of analogue instruments in the album’s production. In 2019, he signed with the prestigious independent label Mute for his eighth studio album, ‘Volume Massimo’, and its follow-up, ‘Scuro Chiaro’ in 2021. Two important new chapters in his recording career in which the balance between analogue composition and cathartic dissonance in the sphere of bliss emerges, particularly the kind of deep, melancholic and refined electronica that sets him apart.