Whenever something from Moonjune Records comes in, I know
something special is about to happen that is about to take me into a rocket ship adventure in the realms of
Progressive, Avant, and Jazz Rock. And the beginning of this year in 2015, one
of the most up-and-coming guitar prodigies from Indonesia is Tesla Manaf. He
brings a sound on his instrument that carries the sounds of Wes Montgomery,
Frank Zappa, Pat Metheny, Robert Fripp, and John McLaughlin that makes him a;
virtuoso, composer, and a musician.
From his dad’s collection of discovering ELP, Gentle Giant,
Soft Machine, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra to classical composers like Bartok,
Debussy, and Penderecki when he was a kid, Music has been there Tesla since he
was born from day one. He’s been playing guitar since he was nine years old and
moving away from classical and into the jazz world and studying music theory,
Tesla himself shows no sign of stopping and going into different styles of
world music with complex time changes and it’s almost as if a jet engine has
roared passed very quickly to be prepared for what you are about to experience.
The album released from the good people from Moonjune Records, in which it his
international debut, are two of his albums compiled into one. It features A Man’s Relationship with his Fragile Area
released last year and
four years ago, he released, It’s All
It begins with a woman speaking in an exciting tone as Tesla plays
along with her voice in the melody describing what she’s excited about as it is
done in a Zappasque style on the opening title track as it segues into Necrophilia
in which it has some intense
time signatures as he goes through a rapid virtuosity of the combinations
between Jazz, Classical, and Flamenco music rolled and combined into one.
But on Moving Side,
Tesla’s tribute to the Rock in Opposition sounds with the Chamber rock beats to
it beginning with a Crimson intense beat as it goes through a darker area
inside the caves thanks to the wind instruments setting the scenery before
Hulhul’s Terompet Pencak, gives it that alarm yet blaring tone that is
something straight out of a Ornette Coleman or Lol Coxhill free-jazz
composition that he could have wrote it for either Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three
or Univers Zero. It’s intense as Tesla plays it calm and gives Hadis "Hulhul" Hendarisman a chance
to shine through his wind instruments by that sound that is intense and not to
mention Desal Sembada’s militant drum beats.
The time-signatures keep’s the flow of Tesla’s compositions
going. It’s evidential on the medium beat with Counting Miles and Smiles
in which it has a loosen beat that shows
him going into that laid-back but driven sounds that is unexpected as Rudy
Zulkarnaen’s double bass gives that wonderful ideas of the solo that he’s
paying tribute to Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison as he lets go through the
fretless sounds that you as a listener are in awe of what he will come up with
next on the solo.
Tesla also shows his Chamber Music side which is really
evidential on here. Chin Up
with the touches of Coltrane in a waltz style as it goes into an up-and-down
scale as he and Hulhul do this amazing climatic classical introduction for the
first three minutes before it movies into a soothing Brazilian beat as a ballad
that you can imagine dancing in the sunset before closing with an unexpected
RIO twist while The Sweetest Horn
perhaps soon going to be one of Tesla’s live favorite.
It begins with a militant introduction with a patriotic
flute for 37 seconds as Tesla and the team going into a different change of the
rhythm. There are some elements of the avant-garde and ominous tones following
by a rapid-fire roar between guitar and drums that slows the bullets down for
recharge. Not to mention the droning double bass coming with a menacing sound
that sends chills down my spine as it relaxes and going into a calming finale.
The 6-part suite, It’s
which was released back in 2011, features the Balienese
ensemble, Mahagotra Ganesha, and the piece is about the connections of what
humans have to go through relationships they endure. The first part starts off
with a calypso beat that reminded me at times of Disney’s The Little Mermaid
as the vocalization and the smooth jazz rhythm
comes in. It’s not until the sounds of the Kantil shows in up as William Teh
Putra and Wishu Pramadi, do a duet between each other as the sounds that
resembles the xylophones, create joy and wonder between the both of them.
The second part for the first two minutes and forty-seven
seconds, has an ambient/atmospheric surrounding that goes into a combination
between Acquiring the Taste-
Gentle Giant meets Tangerine Dream between guitar, sax, and keyboards setting
the landscape and then they move into this lovely ballad in 4/4 time signature
as Tesla goes back into a cleaner sound that is loosened and releases the
stress and help from the upright bass, makes it an excellent combination.
The fourth movement is perhaps one of my favorites. It
starts off with the percussion and chanting that begins very calm and the tempo
increases as it kicks into gear in the styles of the Canterbury Jazz sound that
has some touches of Hatfield and the North as Tesla is moving his fingers in an
increasing beat of Allan Holdsworth and Zappa as well. It’s an unexpected
foot-tapping beat that will have your jaws drop to see where he and the
ensemble would come up with next.
The sixth and final movement, comforting and its between
like a quartet as Tesla gives Gega a chance to come in front circle and shine
on his upright bass and its gorgeous like a sun coming up to raise up for a
chance to rise up and start the morning off and hitting at the right moment at
the exact right moment. And then Tesla comes in as the percussion and drums
help him out the beat to give it a radiant finale along with the vocalizations
to see where they would drive into next.
Moonjune Records have done something special this year and Tesla
himself has accomplished well this year to start 2015 off with the two albums
into one CD and after hearing the album about six times now, it is Tesla’s
chance to shine for his international debut and here, he has done a job well
done. Let’s see what the new year will hold for him and where the road will
take not only just him but his band mates and the Mahagotra Ganesha ensemble, would take us next for the years to come and this is only the beginning not just for him, but for everyone that helped him out.