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With the release of Tesla Manaf’s latest offering, the young and gifted Indonesian guitarist delivers on his main goal as a musician — “to convert spoken words into notes”.
Tesla’s guitar work pairs the string texture and physicality of Andres Segovia and Django Reinhardt, with the phrasing and pacing of Ralph Towner and Pat Metheny, through to the present compositional ebbs and flows of Mary Halvorson and Gilad Hekselman. Mind you, these are merely scrap-book points of reference — the end result is extremely original, fresh and inspiring. There is at work here a youthful and enthusiastic sense of risk-taking which is most revealing and rewarding listen after listen.
His unique approach to modern composition assures that you won’t necessarily find the traditional song elements of verse, chorus, solo, bridge or refrain and, if you do, they very likely will not occupy the accepted position or possess the interrelationship you have come to expect. This “turning on its head” approach to composition, along with each player’s technique and choice of instrument tone color, gives great impact to the experience of listening deeply to each track.
This music is all about movement – you find yourself taking the journey with Tesla Manaf, Hadis ‘Hulhul’ Hendarisman, Rudy Zulkarnaen and Desal Sembada. Your route is paved with gorgeous arpeggiated guitar lines intertwined with sinuous dancing clarinet and fueled by subtle yet insistent basslines with the most delicate use of drumkit. Midstream reflection of this musical experience is granted through the equally composed use of silence and pause. The effortless performance of these idiosyncratic songs belies their complexity.
The second half of this cd includes Tesla’s earlier album “It’s All Yours” featuring the Balinese ensemble Mahagotra Ganesha. Tesla’s guitar work on this recording possesses the playful melodicism of King Sunny Ade and is perfectly complemented by the resonant metallic voices of the Mahagotra Ganesha ensemble’s Gamelan, Gangsa, Ceng Ceng, Kantil, Gong and Kemplug.
released November 26, 2014
TESLA MANAF - guitar, all compositions and arrangement
RUDY ZULKARNAEN - upright bass (1-8)
HULHUL - clarinet, trompet pencak, Indonesian flute (1-8)
DESAL SEMBADA - drums (1-8)
GEGA MESYWARA - upright bass (9-14)
YD NAFIS - keyboards, synth (9-14)
DANI IRJAYANA - drums (9-14)
MUMU - soprano sax, flute (9-14)
ZAKY - vocal
ADRIAN FIRDAUS - gangsa (9-14)
DEWA MADE PREMANA - gangsa (9-14)
WILLIAM TEH PUTRA - kantil (9-14)
WISNU PRAMADI - kantil (9-14)
GEDE DARMA RAHARJA - jublag, gong, kempluk (9-14)
Recorded in 2014 (1-8) and 2011 (9-14)
Produced by Tesla Manaf
Executive production by Leonardo Pavkovic
Tracks 1-8 are released in Indonesia as "A Man's Relationship With His Fragile Area" in 2014; and tracks 9-14 are released in Indonesia in 2011 as "It's All Yours"
Mark Wingfield is always recommended listening for fans of Jazz or Fusion guitar (among the names usually dropped you'll find Alan Holdsworth, Terje Rypdal, Pat Metheny). Nevertheless, this isn't just pure Jazz. I seem to hear more traces of progressive rock than in his other recordings, but probably that's just an early impression... Carsten Pieper