Sergio Messina certainly sounds like a fascinating character. A pioneer of pirate radio in Italy, he’s been broadcasting for close to 40 years. Championing, and producing, homegrown hip hop and reggae, before moving into journalism. He now teaches on the History of Pop Culture at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, and is a recognized academic expert on the subject of digital / internet porn.
Sergio`s debut long-player for Hell Yeah!, delayed by the pandemic, took 4 years to complete, and is dedicated to the friends that he lost during the crisis. While serious subjects influenced their recording – racism, pollution, migration, and government corruption – the compositions all feel humorous and light. The pretty 6-string picking, and tremolo overdubs, exude a Sunday morning coming down, Sunday morning still stoned vibe. A slow, wasted, wander, stagger, home, accompanied by soulful smoky organ. Where after-hours bar-room piano is partnered by a sympathetic strum. Beatles-esque melodies, of nostalgia and touch of melancholia, mix with soft / yacht rock stylings, Mexican cantina muzak, snatches of steel pan, and lonely harmonica licks. Birdsong segues into fuzzed-up takes on trip hop.
Sergio and his band, The Four Twenties, cover Charles Mingus, and they transform Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel into a slow, sultry, almost Brazilian bossa. Sono Stufa di Tutto sets a protest speech to a Cure / Love Cats-like swing, while the muted, Middle Eastern, John Hassell Beach Bar is another highlight.
The overall oeuvre of these largely guitar-led instrumentals is that of a European, more Balearic-ally bent, brother, sibling, of Tommy Guerrero`s cool Californian Loose Grooves & Bastard Blues.
Sergio Messina And The Four Twenties` Sensual Musicology is out now, on Hell Yeah!