Daniel Avery & Alessandro Cortini - The Illusion of Time

Nick Delgaudio
March 27, 2020
[ambient, drone]

The quality of density in music occasionally falls victim to association with aggression or harshness -- that more layers means shrouding the once delicate melodies until they no longer breathe freely. The balance can work though, with soft sounds enhanced by the wall of fuzz lurking behind, propelling it forward. Everything needs a well-weighted counterpart, a foil to counteract and, in the best scenarios, complement. Ambient techno mastermind Daniel Avery teams up with synth mastermind and Nine Inch Nails touring member Alessandro Cortini to demonstrate exactly that -- a genre-bending 10 track exploration of the relationship between density and delicacy. A timely record accentuating the beauty among the madness. 

Though often an apt accompaniment to a night of rest, Drone as a genre shines brightest when heard loud -- and I mean very loud. The pulsating guitar lines dance in between the shapeshifting wall of sound to paint a mesmerizing piece of color and texture. Take opener "Sun" which begins with a soft static rustling before opening up into a low frequency rumble that drives the track forward. The interplay between the Swirling synths and guitars compliment the hypnotic start to our journey. It's easy to feel like as if nothing of importance is happening, but after 5 minutes of kinetic effervescent noise you come to realize you're far from where you started.

Avery and Cortini find great harmony in meshing soundscape driven pieces with synth forward compositions. "Illusion of Time" and "Inside The Ruins" demonstrate the carefully crafted synth work; the denser portions of the instrumentation take a back-seat to the pulsating rhythms. The methodology behind the two tracks stand in opposition -- the former a bright minimalist synth motif backed by an uplifting drone, the latter a dissonant tribal-like march with an intense, fervent atmosphere partially due to it's clever panning. Whether we find ourselves in hopeful moments, looking up towards the sky or fighting an intense battle (internal or external) this record never fails to remind us that we're always drowning in sound.

Maybe that's the Illusion of Time alluded to in the title. Regardless of time's arrow or our linear future, the noise will catch up and surround us. It's in times like these where we need to find solace in this noise, in this chaos. It's always there peeking through, we just need to learn to let it in. Across it's 43 minute run time, Avery and Cortini teach us how to give in to the noise, seek out the good parts and relish in them. The opening track can feel like a wall of noise, but by the time you reach "At First Sight" and "Enter Exit", the density feels less grating and the melodies all the more apparent. The once harsh textures reveal themselves as soft and gentle and we're finally ready to just let ourselves wash away. 


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