Rosli Mansor: Singapore rock instrumentalist

A few weeks ago, I googled for “rock instrumentalist singapore”.

And found Rosli Mansor.

[Rosli Mansor – HeritageFest 09. Originally uploaded by vickomaniac – V Photography]

For sure, Rosli isn’t the only rock instrumentalist in Singapore.

But he’s one of the few whom I’ve discovered on the Internet. I decided to buy his CD, Dragged, after viewing this video on YouTube.
rosli mansor now playing 'dragged'

I like it a lot.

So much that I’ve decided to share my thoughts about the album here.

[BTW, I tend to refer to other rock guitar instrumentalists (like Joe Satriani and Carlos Santana) because they are my benchmark. Besides if anyone compares me favourably with these guitar legends, it’s a compliment. So I hope you’d read the reviews that way.]

Here goes:

To me, Rosli Mansor combines the best of Carlos Santana and Joe Satriani rolled into one. His compositions have a polished feel, where each note means something rather than just shredding for the sake of showing off. Definitely one of those albums that I find listenable beyond the first play. Each track conveys enough familiarity (via the structure and arrangement) and still maintaining my interest with the variations.

Length of the tracks are just nice. I didn’t find any tracks that were overdone.

His playing is technically competent. The album is nicely mastered. Good enough to compete with most major recording labels. A great showpiece for the studio too. One thing though — for some tracks, I wish Rosli’s lead guitar work could stand out more and take centre stage. But that could be a personal preference in terms of mixing.

First track, Pakoo Boomi, sounded very Joe Satriani, which was great. Then past 1:35min I think a little of the unique Rosli Mansor ‘rok’ flavour comes through. This is one of my favourite track.

The second one, Hear Me, River of Love, sounded very Carlos Santana to me. I like the chord progression, where the flavour changes to a more rocksy melody at the chorus.

Dragged, the third track, was a nice change of pace with its slower tempo. It exhibited more of the Santana-Satriani influences.

Rescuing Rukia was a sentimental piece. This was the first song I’d ever heard from Rosli. It isn’t my favourite piece but it was what made me find out more. I think would be a nice study for a rock instrumental lesson in terms of arrangement or a relaxed jamming session.

Invasion (Track 5) is another enjoyable one, with a heavier crunchier sound. A lot more shredding from Rosli. Nice strong punchy bass riff. I’d prefer more bite to the distortion rhythm guitars but that’s just a personal preference.

Deeply Uncommon was a nice surprise. At the start, the nylon-string work promised something different from the tracks. Then hearing the Cantonese spoken words was pleasantly unexpected! I am not sure what is being said but sounds nice.

After that, I found myself grooving to the seventh track, Purple. It’s a pretty standard arrangement but the simplicity is what made it work, moving from minor to major chords. This piece has given me ideas and inspiration.

Quarantined Qarin was very Joe Satriani. Sounded like a track that would fit easily into his Engines of Creation album. This track easily stands out for its technical prowess, composition/ arrangement and overall sound engineering. This is my second fav track.

The final track Farewell September, Pizzas & Sparklers is my favourite track in the entire album. It definitely had that Joe Satriani flavour again (somehow it reminded me of a track in The Extremist album) but I think this might be described as signature Rosli Mansor.

Dragged gets a 8 out of 10 from me.

This 10-track album is a nice find. At $19.90, I wonder how much Yamaha got a cut, LOL. But the price is something I’d gladly pay for. I don’t buy Made-In-Singapore music for its sake. This one is good.

It now sits on the same row as my albums by Joe Satriani, Carlos Santana (Steve Vai and Eric Johnson).

I bought it at the Yamaha store at Plaza Singapura. The counter staff seemed genuinely surprised I’d ask for it.

Check out previews of his songs at

BTW, I’ve not met Rosli and I doubt he knows me. If I were to meet him now, I’ll tell him he owes Vicki a treat or something. She’s one persistent promoter of his music (I mean that in a good way). Wish I had someone to push our music like she does! But then honestly, we’re far from Rosli’s standard!

Can I take a free one-hour lesson from you, Rosli?


It’s cool.

I’m still looking forward to your next album. 🙂

~ Ivan

Documentary: “Radio Station Forgot To Play My Favourite Song“

[First posted at Yesterday.SG, 3 Mar 2008]

Ivan Chew - ProfileI’m not old enough to have experienced the vibrant Singapore music scene in the ’60s. But I’m old enough (or perhaps “young enough”?) to identify with the rock/ metal scene in the ’80s.

At least, I had some recognition of the songs, the bands, the musicians. I definitely got goosebumps as I sat mesmerised, reading Billy’s post and watching the documentary (posted in three parts in YouTube):

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The title of the “rockumentary” has its namesake from a song by the Padres.

The film was a Final Year Project by a trio of NTU students five years ago. Billy’s post has the details.

Growing up then, I remember hearing some — just a few — of the featured songs on radio (the interviewees featured in the video repeatedly said there was little support from local radio).

In truth, I wouldn’t have bought most of the music then. ‘Cos I didn’t have much money as a student, and not all the music was my cup of tea.

But one’s perspectives changes with time, I suppose.

If someone were to compile the music from that period and make it available as a CD, I’d buy it now without hesitation.

I’d listen to it.

And savour the music from that era in Singapore’s (hidden) musical heritage.

Even the Death/ Trash Metal songs.

And my favourite track, without a doubt, would be the Padre’s “Radio Station Forgot to Play My Favourite Song”.