SCURO CHIARO comes from a place that delights in the affirmation of life’s constant variations, simultaneously presenting both bewilderment and vulnerability with its sombre hues and pulsing, synthetic surfaces. For Cortini, this is best captured in ‘CHIAROSCURO’, a track whose waning hook draws us in to a sublime eruption of near-dissonant guitar. “It represents the record, where I was and where I am emotionally,” he reveals. “It’s to do with the conscious decision about trying to be positive, of striving for happiness while accepting the fact that happiness is not all positive.”
The album’s title plays on the term for heavily contrasting light and shadow in painting and other visual arts. Cortini explains, “SCURO CHIARO is the opposite of chiaroscuro (the use of light and shadow to give strong contrast), and in a way it shows that no matter how you order things there’s always going to be two elements that tend to be the opposite of each other that make up the truth—or make up everything.”
On his previous album, VOLUME MASSIMO (2019, his first for Mute), Cortini developed a process he carried through to this album, working through his archive of personal recordings, carefully surveyed to find sounds and elements with which to compose. “To me things that were created apart in time can fit together in a work of art, and it doesn’t matter when they were created,” says Cortini. “You drink wine that is ten years old with a meal that is freshly handmade. The final product, in my opinion, doesn’t need to be made at the same time.” The artwork for SCURO CHIARO, shot by Emilie Elizabeth, is an extension of the thematic bridge between the two works.
Cortini’s recently collaborated with electronic musical instrument manufacturer Make Noise to create a bespoke instrument and effects unit, Strega. “Strega is a successful attempt to condense my sonic aesthetic into a music making box,” Cortini says. “Throughout the time that I finished the record I was receiving prototypes, and their work was integrated on the record.”
There’s a great volatility to SCURO CHIARO, yet its intention is to make itself meditative in the face of opposites and inconsistencies. Its masterfully composited pieces reflect this in part and in whole.