When I first heard that Rosli was working on the album, I was very excited and highly anticipating the CD. I didn’t know what to expect as he appreciates many music genres, teaches electric guitar and plays acoustic sets at many watering holes around Singapore. Nevertheless I had faith in him and 2 years later he delivered the goods. Family, friends, students, believers celebrated the album launch with him. Being away from Singapore, I watch from a distance the immense success he has achieved for himself, the outreach of his music to new fans and growing circle of followers and the many endorsements/support he has.
End of July ’07 I got my copy of Dragged in the mail. Such elation! I read the covers front to back and back to front, my amplifier and speakers just about doing justice to his album. Dragged is becoming a permanent resident in my CD player. Having read all the song’s synopsis, I lay there listening to the notes, tempo, melody, tone and with eyes closed, I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride. There seems to be a lot of pain, joy, love, angst, belief, constraints and colour tucked deep into many crevices and dimensions. I feel so drawn into it and it gets my heart pumping especially when the melody starts to climb up to reach its peak. It is this air of expectancy that keeps the tracks alive and full of surprises.
1. Pakoo Boomi
Hammering of nails into the ground, thunder, eerie background effects and suddenly the guitar starts to speak. It speaks with such angst and aggression, wanting to make a statement. It is hard-rocking and melodic, a very good treat and start to the album. Somehow, I feel it is slightly over-produced and prefer the original version, packed with more rawness and edge.
2. Hear Me, River of Love
A light and catchy tune, with elements of ups and downs. Almost speaking in words, it builds up the momentum and makes you want to turn up the volume knob and speed down the highway. It brings you to an almost climax point and back down again as if remembering the good times and letting it remain in your consciousness. The song signs out like saying “Remember me…like I remember you…”.
Slowly, each step is taken, dragging the heavy feet. The notes come in half a beat slower, the guitar sings its sad but beautiful voice, crisp and soulful. Wah-wah crying out “why why why”? The sensual shuffle and crying reveal the sensitivity and pathos of a man questioning the drudgery of daily life. The song draws you in, throws you into a dark pit and make you want to kneel on your knees and cry. It fades away leaving you sobbing.
4. Rescuing Rukia
When this track comes on, it has an immediate positive vibe and seems to lend a hand to you in the pit helping you to get up. A very catchy tune that explores the relationship between mood and vulnerability. Having shed tears in the past, it wants to help you up and trudge on. After only one listen, you will have the song playing in your head.
A well-paced and thoughtfully constructed scene. This really gets your adrenaline rushing. Entering a mysterious and sinister world, it is deadly exciting and dangerous. The hard-rocking guitar and prominent snare slide into soaring melody, bringing you across tempo changes. The cries of the wah-wah trying to warn you all the way; you punch your fists in the air; you grasp for air. The pace is not frantic but packs a punch. If you want something to get your heart pumping, this is the one for you. It ends with a haunting scream and it echoes away in your head. This would be a great song to watch live, you would be able to feel the energy flow.
6. Deeply Uncommon
Very unique. Beautiful nylon acoustic notes bouncing off the walls as you sit by the window watching the rain beat down. Wind chimes making sounds in the light breeze, you are deep in thoughts on this rainy day. An arty exploration with Cantonese narration, the cautious voice explains the complex dimensions and directions that our lives entail. Are we lost in our own world, with secret existence? We cannot seem to understand the many different colourful platforms that come packaged in our lives. The more you focus the more you see many angles and reflections, like standing in a room with many mirrors. You are lost. Just when you are slipping further into another dimension and barely keeping your head above waters, the song snaps you right out of it. Creativity is the main ingredient in this brew.
Beautifully executed, simple intro and great raw snare drum that seem to take you by the hand and lead you into another place for a sneak peak. The emotion and expression are well-delivered, sharing with you good times and bad times. Beautiful melody builds up and slowly descends and then up again. You feel so connected and mesmerized you want to jump in there. One of my favourites in this album.
8. Seeking Flaws
This is one song which I cannot praise enough. It gets so intense you feel like you are riding the clouds. Great technique and sound, perfectly delivered. It wants to tell you a story, wants you to lie there and absorb all the details and let your brain process it, yet asking you to tread carefully because it is a dangerous place. This song truly rocks and puts you in a head-spin.
9. Quarantined Qarin
An apparent Satriani influence in this creation. Dangerous tone coupled with energy brings you on a walk on the edge. An awesome track brimming full of Rosli’s abilities, guitar techniques and creativity. In a powerful and skillful way, he uses his guitar expertise and prowess to talk to us. A message with an impact.
10. Farewell September, Pizzas & Sparklers
A truly heartfelt and emotional ending to the album. So much pain and memories. Beautiful soulful tune with beautiful acoustic guitar strumming in the background. The notes seem to string along your emotions and put you in the same state of mind as Rosli when playing with his heart and soul. So haunting, so sad, yet so soothing; he is asking you to come back. The song ends as if like it does not want a closure. It is hoping for something positive….someone to return…….
Without a doubt, this is a worthy addition to anyone’s CD collection. The entire album is well-paced, thoughtfully constructed and arranged, allowing the tracks to breathe in a most satisfactory manner. The sound quality is excellent and one can hardly believe that this masterpiece is from a Singaporean. Rosli Mansor, power to you! It is clear that Rosli’s guitar is an extension of his heart and soul. It screams passion, love and dedication. Dragged has just set a new benchmark in the six-string sphere in Singapore.