Sergio Messina & The Four Twenties Sensual Musicology Hell Yeah Recordings
Legendary Italian musician Sergio Messina serves up his 13 track Sensual Musicology on Hell Yeah this March. It comes a couple of years after he first released on the label’s Buena Onda compilation and takes in everything from demented waltz to grown-up jazz, groovy beach music to heart-aching melancholia with artwork by virtuoso Italian AD DeeMo.
Now based in Lombardy, Sergio was there at the birth of pirate radio in the mid-seventies and eventually produced Radio art for national broadcaster Rai. At the same time, his DJ career took off and he helped establish Hip hop in Rome before taking his own live show to the stage with a mix of PCs, samplers and tape recorders as early as 1989. Frank Zappa declared himself a fan and in the years since Sergio has done everything from radio art to producing Neapolitan reggae and hip hop band 99 Posse, producing his own solo albums and writing for monthly music magazine Rumore. On top of this, he has both written books about and delivered lectures on the digital porno revolution, as well as teaching History of Pop Culture at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. All this makes him a truly original creative thinking who has long been immersed in many niche facets of popular culture.
Sensual Musicology took several years and four different locations to happen. Its release has been delayed by the pandemic, during which Sergio lost many friends and relatives close to him. As a result, the album is dedicated to all of them. It is a record that addresses many topics from economic migration to jazz piano, 60s blues motifs to corruption, pollution and racism via Michael Jackson covers, odes to West Coast guitar albums and spaced-out pieces of electronica.
Opening with the beautifully delicate Mingus melodies of ‘Goodbye Porkpie Hat’ the album roams through the bluesy Italo-American-Jamaican groove of ‘Amara,’ slow melancholy of ‘Sometimes Remember’ with classy vocals from chanteuse Valeria Rossi and ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, an acoustic rebuild of Michael Jackson’s hit song. Then comes the serenade that is ‘Just Because You’re Dead,’ and ‘Sono Stufa di Tutto’ which is based around a protest speech recorded from the radio in the 1980s. Jon Hassell Beach Bar’ is a musical hybridisation for dancing pleasure.
The second half of the album takes in ‘Ouana Di lambo’ which is the Four Twenties taking you to a cocktail bar in the tropics, ‘Benjamino Placido’ which is a melody for a man who inspired Sergio to start writing his columns, and ‘Nowhere Special’ which is a tribute to West Coast guitar albums. Closer ‘Switchblade Bolero’ has a Zappaesque theme.
Sensual Musicology is a rich and diverse musical world that is as thought-provoking and deep as it is emotionally rewarding.