Guitar in his hand, young Javanese artist makes a strong bid for world dominance.
As far as Indonesian fraction on MoonJune goes, this 27-year-old stands out in the field of brilliancy, as Tesla Manaf channels his creativity not so much via performance yet through composition. Thus, Tesla’s six-string signature is but a part of the orchestral picture painted over two albums – 2011’s “It’s All Yours” and “A Man’s Relationship With His Fragile Area” from 2014, both making their international debut – gathered under one multicolored roof here in reverse chronological order. It make perfect sense, because Manaf’s latest, as opposed to the previous one’s six-part suite, reveals different sorts of subtleties in the artist’s approach, just like the record’s title suggests.
There’s undeniable eroticism to it, too, in the way the music moves into the unison bliss of “Early Years” or sleazy dark areas of “Necrophilia” where guitar flurries get buried under harmonic riffs before unhurried jazz shrouds the woodwind in “Counting Miles & Smiles” with its art-rock Arcadia and Tesla’s strum feeds the rhythm as well as a melody. But while “Movin’ Side” opens up its cinematic bowels for the gamelan sounds to fly off and stoke the wildness of conditional figures contorted into modern avant-garde framework, the mesmeric melancholy of “Chin Up” takes the listener to the Paris of Django, and the flute which leads into “The Sweetest Horn” delivers a bright Celtic call to action.
And the action in “It’s All Yours” – vibes spicing up the groove and voices, especially the “Part 4” a cappella intro, anchoring the glide down to earth – takes place on Manaf’s native soil, even though the filigree intensity of “Part 1” hints at the American kind of fusion dance. Advancing the elegy, “Part 2” gets deep into a bottom-end register, albeit “Part 6” dissolves the gloom of these nether reaches into a sun-kissed easiness. It’s a generous gift – again as per title’s implication – one requiring repeated listening for more rewarding results. A festival of the soul: that’s where the fragile area lies.