This is two albums on one CD, and the first is entitled A Man’s Relationship With His Fragile Area. Well, if nothing else, that has got your attention, has it not? To use a British expression, luckily this album is not a load of bollocks! In fact, far from it, for Tesla Manaf as a whole is an intriguing piece of work. The album features more recent compositions in the first half, the second half being an album comprised of a six-part suite by the name of It’s All Yours, recorded in 2011. The more experimental nature of the first AMRWHFA section of the album contrasts nicely with the much more traditional Metheny-influenced jazz guitar shapes of It’s All Yours.
A Man’s Relationship With His Fragile Area opens with the short and quirky title track, where a female Indonesian voice provides a speedy narration, the lilting intonations exactly replicated in tandem by Tesla’s guitar. Given the track title, I’d love to have an English translation of the lyric! That start shows Tesla’s impish humour, a trait that shines through his music throughout this first half of the record. There is a joie de vivre in the clarinet and guitar, and later the double bass playfully swapping and mirroring lines in Counting Miles And Smiles that cannot help but leave you feeling better for having heard it.
Moving Side mixes precise and complicated melody lines with some almost free-jazz blowing, highlighting both the experimental and compositional skills of Tesla and his band. Early Years initially lulls the listener with its cool and languid outlook, almost imperceptibly becoming more agitated as it progresses. Tesla is obviously the focus, but the other star is reeds player Hadis “Hulhul” Hendarisman, whose conversations with Tesla are central to this piece.
Tesla’s knack for marrying mathematical precision with human warmth comes to the fore on Chin Up, a quite beguiling tune of contrasts, the emotive side again being bolstered by Hulhul’s clarinet. On this tune Tesla moves from math-jazz to classical stylings, through to a high-kicking flamenco, ending with a slight return to the original math/warmth contrasting theme. Things get stranger on The Sweetest Horn which starts with a kind of ancient Redcoat military drum and fife military theme before slowly transforming into a journey through inner space.
And so ends part one. Part two is more traditional and does less for this listener, but I suppose the intention is to introduce the many facets of Tesla Manaf’s guitar playing to a wider audience. Mixing an African feel in what could loosely be termed a “world music” vibe with the aforementioned Metheny-like passages, It’s All Yours is still highly enjoyable, but not as wilfully explorative as AMRWHFA. There can be no doubting the excellent musicianship of the different ensemble used for It’s All Yours, especially so on the charging Part 4, with the contrapuntal rhythms provided by the large ethnic percussion section providing the basis for its ultra-fast ensemble playing.
Once again, Leonardo at Moonjune Records has unearthed a gem of a guitar player from a land with a seemingly endless rich vein of talent. Recommended for all fusion guitar fans.
01. A Man’s Relationship with His Fragile Area (0:44)
02. Necrophilia (1:31)
03. Counting Miles and Smiles (4:59)
04. Moving Side (5:58)
05. Early Years (7:55)
06. Multiple By Zero (1:34)
07. Chin Up (7:06)
08. The Sweetest Horn (6:43)
09. It’s All Yours Part 1 (11:17)
10. It’s All Yours Part 2 (5:59)
11. It’s All Yours Part 3 (6:23)
12. It’s All Yours Part 4 (5:46)
13. It’s All Yours Part 5 (4:00)
14. It’s All Yours Part 6 (8:57)
Total Time – 78:52
~ A Man’s Relationship With His Fragile Area:
Tesla Manaf – Guitar
Rudy Zulkarnaen – Upright Bass
Hulhul – Clarinet, Tarompet Pencak, Indonesian Flute
Desal Sembada – Drums
~ It’s All Yours:
Tesla Manaf – Guitar
Gega Mesywara – Upright Bass
Yd Nafis – Keyboards & Synth
DaniIirjayana – Drums
Mumu – Soprano Sax & Flute
Zaky – Vocal (10 & 12)
Adrian Firdaus – Gangsa
Dewa Made Premana – Gangsa
William Teh Putra – Kantil
Wisnu Pramadi – Kantil
Gede Darma Raharja – Jublag, Gong & Kempluk
Record Label: Moonjune Records
Year Of Release: 2014