A Private Nirvana
There’s something special about a private moment; the brief glimpses of solace that flicker in and out of our vision, attained only fleetingly, then dashed away in seconds. Despite their temporary nature, these moments are golden, oft remembered, and perfectly unique to oneself. Nirvana seems so close, humming just beyond the edge of perception, a beautiful glowing thrum that pulses and whirrs with the voices of angels and the cooing of doves, Nirvana sounds not unlike Avanti, the latest project by Alessandro Cortini. Avanti seeks to take everything beautiful in the world and distill it into a forty-five minute journey, and luckily for all dedicated enough to find the record, it succeeds.
Avanti wears its heart on its sleeve from the opening moments of the first track “Iniziare,” which begins with a man speaking in Italian over a droning bass hum. The hum tone suggests that it may be a warped version of an actual stand up bass and the progressions through the track continue to assert that idea. While the bass slowly plucks away, there is a rising synth tone in the background, slowly swelling like a string orchestra when the bass subtly adds in a second tone, and then the song blooms. Blooming is possibly the only way to describe it; horns enter into the fray and a sharp electronic flourish reminiscent of those found in the music of Brian Eno propels the song to crippling emotional heights without ever reaching the overpowering levels of groups like Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, instead sounding much more similar to Sigur Rós. The song washes out after delivering a final rise, then it is gone as quickly as it came, with a brief outro in Italian.
After the opening track, the album follows many similar patterns. The second track, “Perdonare” begins in a more menacing manner; the synths crackle instead of hum and the tone is deeper and darker than that of “Iniziare.” The song itself is no less gripping though — the swells are more violent, worthy of venues like the New York Met and the Hollywood Bowl. The track’s gravitational pull is that of a black hole — it is inescapable and strange and often seems as though it is bending the laws of reality with a sound palate that only Blanck Mass has matched this year in terms of uniqueness. Avanti contains two centerpieces nestled in the heart of the album, “Aspettare” and “Non Fare,” both of which are strikingly influenced by Brian Eno’s “The Big Ship,” which may be the greatest electronic song of all time. Luckily for Cortini, the influences are well worn and serve to elevate both tracks to emotional heights worthy of only the best films. With a set of great headphones the listener will feel the earth drop away beneath them, the tracks having pulled them completely from the planet into some extra-physical space, beyond pain and suffering and the trivialities of day to day existence, into their own private Nirvana.
Dreams are hard to remember, and some are over before we have the chance to notice them. Luckily, for all their difficulty, dreams are freedom, they are beauty and if there were a chance to reach out and grab them, nearly anyone would. This is one of those chances, as Alessandro Cortini has created one of the most compelling works of experimental music since Tarot Sport or Brian Eno’s ambient series. Missing out on this album is missing out on a dream, it’s missing out on enlightenment, its missing out on Nirvana.