Sergio Messina & the Four Twenties: The Alto Nido Sessions SERGIO MESSINA & THE FOUR TWENTIES THE ALTO NIDO SESSIONS

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Joe Gillis' theme
Subtraction is one of my favorite strategies: it turns out Less Is More also in music, at least to my ears. While working on some tracks for the Sensual Musicology album (which is ready but on hold because of CoVid) my good friend and soundman Paolo Mauri, who mixes my music and makes it golden, was baffled. He would look at the parts (we work mostly in remote) and wonder if I had forgotten something: very sparse tracks, lots of interlocking parts, delayed repetitions. This is one of those tunes. The Ebow (an electro-magnetic pick for guitar that allows infinite sustain) and the Vibraphone are recurring sounds in this EP. Full disclosure: in the future I might have to employ a human Vibraphone player, which is unfortunately very complex and expensive to record. But an actual Vibraphone (and vibraphonist) would add a dimension that is simply missing with sampled sounds. In fact, besides the Sine wave (which I use a lot, and consider an instrument in itself), there are very few computer generated sounds in my music. The electric guitar part in the middle of the song is named Epi Stills, because I played it on an Epiphone guitar, and the sound was inspired by Stephen Stills' guitar fills in the song Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). Joe Gillis, William Holden's character in the film Sunset Boulevard, lived at the Alto Nido Chateau in Los Angeles where you can rent an apartment right now, if you're so inclined. 

Consider the water
While in Amsterdam, I lived in a very old home overlooking a canal. I was there for over three years, and at first I would spend a lot of time looking at the water, thinking about it, from John Keats ("whose name was written in water") to the many references to water in music, where it can be overpowering and deadly but also cleansing and divine. After a while I started to take the view for granted, so I put a note on my studio wall that read "Consider the water" (I really miss it now, despite living in a beautiful place). This tune, whose chord progression was inspired by the 60s/70s West Coast music, was an actual bitch to play: at 50 bpm every mistake becomes unbearable (and there are still a few in there). More Ebow for your aural excitement.

Round Robin (Pianura mix)
This tune, along with the previous two, is part of a Californian trilogy, with atmospheres and sounds inspired by so called "West Coast Music" (aka Folk rock) but also Exotica, Jazz and Soundtracks. This is why this EP is named after a Los Angeles landmark building (LA is also one of my favorite cities). While working on this music I accidentally bumped into some genres, mixing elements and solutions from distant styles. According to Dj and music expert Fabio De Luca, whose ears I trust, Round Robin "captures precisely the spirit of Balearic music", which was a great discovery for me. Written in 2019, this tune was included in my previous EP Music For Uplifting Gormandizers (Hell Yeah 2019). But this is a radically different mix (made by Paolo Mauri), much more adventurous, extreme and three-dimensional.

Catch the wind
I remember hearing this Donovan tune on the radio as a kid, and the melody stayed with me despite several subsequent shifts in my musical tastes, and a general dislike for folkish music (perhaps because I like actual Folk music). Then, unexpectedly, the chords popped out of my fingers so I went and looked at the lyrics, which I never knew. I discovered this is a sad, crushing, unhappy ending song dressed in an ill fitting tie-dye shirt. The tune is beautiful (and the structure, which I kept, is perfect), all it needed was to be stripped, slowed down (always a good thing to do to music), and get the Vocoder treatment. I find the Vocoder's tone sad and melancholic; you have the interpretive aspect of a vocal performance but the sound makes it more like an instrument, and adds an odd modern pathos to the part. This is my second tune with the Vocoder, after the cover of Fly Away (out last september on Hell Yeah). 

All tracks written, performed and recorded by Sergio Messina, except Catch the wind, written by Donovan
Mixed and Mastered by Paolo Mauri
Thanks to Luca Celada, Adolfo Massazza, Hell Yeah! and Cris Music, Milan.

Stefano Ballini's review on the digital version of Trippa Shake (in italian)
Andrea Valentini's review on the february 2021 issue of Rumore magazine (in italian)

The Alto Nido Mixtape is a collection of tunes that inspired this EP.

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