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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tesla Manaf

Tesla Manaf

Review by Gary Hill

This release lands in the area between progressive rock and jazz. It’s often freeform in nature. This is actually two releases put out together. It includes a new set and one from 2011. Personally, I tend to find the 2011 set better. That’s because it lands into more melodic jazzy territory. The vocals are a good addition, too, with the new material mostly vocal free. There are a lot of people who really enjoy this kind of experimental music. It’s not really my flavor, though. That said, there are still some compelling moments that manage to transcend my personal tastes. I can also, definitely, appreciate the art and skill set involved.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Man's Relationship With His Fragile Area (2014)
 
A Man's Relationship With His Fragile Area
A shrill spoken female voice seems to be mirrored by guitar on this short oddity.
Necrophilia
Weaving this way and that, this is one part chamber music, one part fusion and all a little bizarre. It’s also oddly captivating.
Counting Miles & Smiles
Seeming related, this moves out closer to pure jazz. It has some particularly mellow passages in the mix, too. The bass gets a chance to shine on this thing. There are definitely some King Crimson like bits here and there, as well.
Moving Side
King Crimson-like fast paced jamming opens this and the cut moves out from there. This is sometimes more freeform even than the previous cuts. There is a weird slow jazz segment built into it, too.
Early Years
This starts with mellower, more melodic jazz and moves forward from there. Although there is some strangeness and exploration, this is more consistent than a lot of the rest of the music here.
Multiply By Zero
Fast paced guitar playing, much like King Crimson or California Guitar Tri o is the basis of this short piece. It does get a short percussion solo at the end.
Chin Up
Although it does move into more odd territory at times, this one of the more melodic pieces. Parts of it land more in the vicinity of jazz while other sections get more mellow prog rock oriented. I particularly like the powered up, fast paced section, but overall this is one of my favorite cuts here.
The Sweetest Horn
A short Colonial music section starts this. Then percussion takes over for a time before it works out to more weird fusion. This really twists and turns in a lot of unusual directions as it continues.  It gets into some pretty hard rocking stuff at times, too. Eventually it does work out to some pretty mainstream progressive rock before it ends.
It's All Yours (2011)
  
Part 1

Percussion starts this and we’re off from there. It has a bit of an Island vibe, blended with jazz and more. This works to some of the most mainstream jazz of the whole set. Still, it has enough strangeness to keep it from being mistaken for Pat Metheny or someone like that. There are some vocals as this continues. Tuned percussion plays a prominent role at times on this song. It has quite a few shifts and turns, too. There is some furious jamming later. There are sections here that make me think of the less crunchy end of Red era King Crimson. There are some vocals like throat singing later and some pretty crazed stuff, too.

Part 2
Slower and mellower, while this cut has some oddities, it definitely aligns along the lines of melodic mainstream jazz. It has some vocals in it, too.
Part 3
The energy picks up for some more mainstream jazz here. It builds to some pretty intense territory and gets busy with tuned percussion and more.
Part 4
A weird little world music vocal dominated section starts this. Then it fires out into smoking hot melodic fusion from there. Sections of scat meets world music singing are heard at later points, but overall this is a quick paced, guitar dominated jazz workout.
Part 5
Mellower freeform weirdness opens this. It builds gradually from there.
Part 6
This is one of the more melodic and mainstream jazz pieces here. It’s also one of the best.
 
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