Alessandro Cortini of Sonoio

For the past couple months, Alessandro’s life has taken over mine. He handed over a few gigs of video for the teasers and because we approached them in a minimal fashion, we were left with nearly an hour of unused footage. I tried to make sense of it all in the video below and think it tells a story of a few cats that live with an annoying roommate.

In his first interview about Sonoio, Alessandro is shedding some light on his new project touching briefly on the background of Sonoio, the method and not the lyrics.

SONOIO comes from the Italian “sono io”, which means “it’s me”. It’s the first time that I write a whole album on my own.

Starting out
The bulk of the songs were written on the Buchla in January and they all started from sitting in front of it, not knowing what to do. I sit in front of it and I feel like a baby playing with something new: no rules, a lot of colors, unknown sounds and lights. It’s easy to be creative that way. There is no feeling of working. It does however apply to other instruments I have found. The main obstacle was at the beginning, when I thought I was going to record a modwheelmood album. Once I realized this was a different thing, with a different set of rules, everything went quite smoothly, especially thanks to Jon’s feedback while working on the tracks.

A song never just comes to my mind. It has to be triggered by a sound, a sequence, a rhythm, then add a bass line or a melody, it really depends. If you listen to a song like “just me”, that one started with having my friend Reed Hays showing me a trick on the 281 module, where the envelope emulates a sidechained compressor. That became the main part in the song.  I started realizing fairly early in the process that I was coming up with more interesting material for my standards if I concentrated on writing with only one tool, as opposed to layering different instruments like I used to.

What instruments were you used to layering?
A Jomox XBase 09 for the more standard sounding analog drums, NI’s massive for some of the drones, a lot of UAD plugins for mixing, SoundToys Decapitator, Crystallizer, and a healthy dose of Eventide H8000FW.

Are there any additional hands and ears helping you out?
The name says it all, Starcraft boy*.

Just for that, I’m posting our scores. Answer the question.
Jon Bates from BigBlackDelta helped a lot with his expertise and opinions. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and not knowing what sounds good anymore. It was mostly a situation of having a trusted person who shares the same musical attitude to come in, listen, and pull me out of an endless circle. He also sang on one of the songs, Houdini.

Did you intentionally leave out instruments?
Yes, for the most part. The challenge was for me to utilize a very low number of instruments and preferably the modular only: that way you end up coming up with sounds that might recall others but never quite sound like them. Some of the songs (Just me, Not Worth Remembering, Hold On, Let Go) were recorded as one takes on the Buchla, and then vocals were overdubbed. There are no more than 8 tracks of Buchla at once, plus Vox + vocoder.

Aside from Blindoldfreak, is this your first full length release since your time with Nails?
First full length on my own, besides modwheelmood’s Pearls to Pigs, which came out as an album last year. I spent the last few years working on other people’s music and touring a little but mostly cat sitting.

What are your rates for cat sitting?
I charge one thousand dollars an hour.

Can you talk about your lyrics or themes you were exploring?
Good, cause I didn’t really care.

Do you plan to tour?
I don’t enjoy playing shows as much as I enjoy writing and recording music. It always feels like you have to prove yourself in a foreign field. The studio is were I am happy and feel like I do something worth listening to. That said, yes, I will play shows eventually.

How does Sonoio stand in your existing catalog of music?
It’s what I do now, might not be what I do tomorrow! It’s difficult to look back at what i have done and analyze it. Everything sounds great until you release it…. Then you are ready to move on… it’s therapeutic.

How would you describe collaborating with Harvestman for your SuONOIO Synth?
Sonoio on Facebook
– The SuONOIO instrument: SuONOIO Blog

*Actual score of a game of Starcraft Alessandro (purple) and I (yellow) played. All those years on tour and in the studio must’ve fried his killing skills.

10 Responses to “Alessandro Cortini of Sonoio”

  1. Naestran August 4, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    mhh, he should continue making music instead of playing starcraft :)

    • Alessandro August 4, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

      nonsense. I am a starcraft talent waiting to blossom.

      • RB August 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

        Great Article! and yeah, you’re a total Starcraft disaster:]

  2. Andreas August 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    great piece, everything was like a warm hug. VERY cat heavy, but I suppose that goes with the territory!

  3. Rowan August 4, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Wow. Those kitties sure are taking over! It’s a wonder any music ever gets made with those bundles of fluff parading about the place.

  4. Xavier August 5, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    Black Mesa mug….

    Your awesomeness just went up 1000%

  5. Josh K. August 5, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Really great stuff- someone has to hack Starcraft so you can play it with a modular synth….

  6. Juliana August 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    Step 1) Place kittens on the 222e’s tactile interface
    Step 2) ???
    Step 3) PROFIT!


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