A masterful exploration of the fleeting nature of time
Ambient music remains a perpetually underappreciated form of expression. Plenty of journalists have opined about the benefits and qualities of the art form, but it never seems to make any major movement in the eyes of the general populace. At the end of the day most writers will chalk this up to people being either incapable of grasping the subtle nuance or too inundated with stimulus to sit down and appreciate the journey unfolding before them. People could argue that the lack of appreciation for ambient music stems from journalists inability to communicate the draw of the art form, then recommend an approachable version of the genre to those who might be interested. There are myriad reasons why this could take place, but at the end of the day the biggest reason is a lack of approachable ambient records. Now, thanks to Alessandro Cortini and Daniel Avery, there is at least one more.
While Illusion of Time is not approachable in the traditional sense, it is approachable to the right people. When exposing someone to a new genre of music, one must take account of how genres evolved. Since ambient evolved out of soundtracks and experimental, fans of those genres are the most likely to enjoy ambient music. Alessandro Cortini and Daniel Avery have both grasped this, which is why Illusion of Time is so compelling. Not only does the record work on a fundamental level—it’s one of the most compelling releases of 2020 to date—it also works on an academic level and is almost certainly going to be responsible for expanding the music taste of thousands of listeners.
What really makes this record shine is the subtle interplay between the two artists. While both of them craft intricate soundscapes in their solo works, this record sees both artists reach new heights together. Tracks like “Illusion of Time” and “Water” show off Avery’s penchant for rhythm and pacing, while “Sun Intro” and “Enter Exit” show off a more sonically aggressive angle typical of Cortini. When combined, Avery’s contributions ground the compositions of Cortini by providing structure and rhythm, while Cortini adds a free flowing approach to texture into the work of Avery.
Collaborations like this are rarely so successful. Most collaborations exhibit too much or too little of a single artist, making the final product indistinguishable from just a regular old record. Illusion of Time perfectly encapsulates the goal of collaboration by sounding like something neither artist would have been able to create on their own. People should all hope that Cortini and Avery reunite some time in the future because right now ambient has never been so full.