Turning round the CD and your eyes scroll down the list when you stopped at the last track. Saying goodbye to September, pizzas and sparklers? You start to rack your brain to find the associations for these three words but soon after you just let the thought slip out of your mind.
If the mundane tasks of this world have yet to dull the senses, the realisation that September is ending very soon will dawn upon you and perhaps this is a good time to revisit that thought on the last track, “Farewell September, Pizzas and Sparklers”. And no one is in a better position other than Rosli Mansor, the artist/composer/musician behind the album Dragged, to explain the significance of this track.
“September highlights some events that I experienced years ago. And these memories hold very strong emotions, even till today”, explained Rosli.
Rosli was standing at the crossroads on that fateful September in 2000. He had to decide which way to take and to leave behind the baggage that was holding him down. A difficult decision it was in the end and a difficult reconciliation between his heart and his mind, and it meant stepping away from the pizzas and sparklers that came to signify the importance of the past Septembers he had.
“It was a very, very difficult time to go through, one that I struggled badly with. ‘Farewell September, Pizzas and Sparklers’ was the first song I wrote for the album, a way to cope with the situation then. It also marked the starting point of my album.”
The farewell to September paved the way to saying hello to the guy holding a ‘headless’ guitar and with a pizza box as a head. And if you think the number 9 t-shirt that he wears frequently is just an ordinary t-shirt, you would want to re-think that thought again right now.
The personification of Rosli Mansor doesn’t stop at “Farewell” and the character. From the ‘pizza box head’ man and the ‘pizza box head’ boy with the number 9 t-shirt to the distinctly-named Rukia, every character found in Dragged personifies a part of Rosli, stemming from his thoughts and emotions.
Thoughtfully, Rosli said, “Having to say farewell to September was tough, compounding it was having to deal with my qarin. The other half of me that wanted to return to the days of despair. But because I made my decision to walk the path, the qarin cannot win and to prevent it from winning is to ‘quarantine’ it.”
You know the connection is anything but obvious as that became the basis for the song “Quarantined Qarin”. And it was also the qarin’s ‘voice’, vocalised and disguised as a woman’s voice in “Farewell” saying, “Kembali la, itu saja sayangku. Terima kasih.” (“Come back, that’s all my love. Thank you.” in English)
And before a breath can be taken after the tumultuous ride you had with Rosli on those two tracks, you took a hard pounding, knocking whatever remaining air one has out of the lungs. That pounding was one that Rosli took and even till today, he is taking it still. No matter the actions and attitude now are different than those many years before, he had to and still have to endure the imperfections many sought from him.
“Seeking Flaws” is not just another track relating to his past, it relates strongly to the album and his present as well. “’Seeking Flaws’ wasn’t just seeking my bad points, it was also the eyes and mouths that sought to downplay the realisation of Dragged.” Rosli added, “It feels like a battle that has no end. Yet the entire flaws-seeking incidents on me and the album actually resolved my decision to turn this album into a reality. I believe in the album despite the constant pressure and greenish eyes that looked upon me. I want to prove to myself that with the album, I can perhaps help to push for the recognition and growth of instrumental guitarists in the local scene.”
Bring the rest of the tracks like “Rescuing Rukia” and “Purple” together and it is akin to fitting pieces of Rosli’s life together, cumulating to the journey he termed as Dragged. A representation of who and what he was then, and allowing him to move on to who and what he strives to be today. And to express what couldn’t be expressed easily through words: the tears, the pains, the struggles, and the determination to achieve one’s goals.
“Dragged was never meant to be an album full of mindless shreds or hard-hitting riffs. The album (and the same-titled song), wide-ranging and to the point of being melodious, is my channel of articulating the heartfelt feelings and indescribable words I had while on the journey of ‘ups-and-downs’.”
With the CD in your hand or the tracks in your player, it is worthwhile to attune the ears to the tracks differently this time. You may just ‘hear’ his life unfolding within the musical notes, and perhaps yours may just ‘unfold in clarity’ before you.