March 26, 2011
We (a couple of us with a few hifi dealers) just came back from a listening session at ML's house on his latest audiophile project: The Solianos "Pusaka"- remembering Alfonso Soliano.
One word sums up our feelings: Sensational.
Firstly, we would like to let you know that this recording is done at KL's most expensive studio in TTDI, The Ark Studios. It is the same studio used by Jacky Cheung and George Lam in their respective audiophile albums recently. You could detect the same tonal color and airiness, that is the hallmark of this famous studio, except that Pusaka's recording is way better than either Jacky's or George's. We seriously think that is because of ML's expertise here and no other reasons.
Secondly, this is most likely the first Malay audiophile album in the world and the first of its genre in Malaysia that is being mastered by Doug Sax, ML's favourite mastering guru from The Mastering Lab. Doug Sax also mastered JZ8, another best-selling album from Pop Pop Music.
What's can we say but to congratulate ML once again for the fantastic sound! The same Doug Sax's signature sound is evident in Pusaka too. It is very thick in the mids, very airy and analogue sounding, very musical and the best thing is, it yearns to be played loud and louder! The louder you play, the more sensational the sound gets, without a trace of breaking up or edginess or harshness. We notice the same trend in JZ8 recording too.
Doug sax is way better than Bernie Grundman in the areas of density (Cantonese is "Mutt Dou"), midrange seductiveness and sheer musicality. His mastering may not have the dynamism of Bernie but its winning edge is the musicality, which makes Pusaka such a gem to behold.
Musically, this is the most ambitious and most outrageous from ML's production to-date. It is not just jazz per se, it is Latin, Samba, Cuban, Bossa Nova, Swing... a testament to Arranger/Music Director and maestro Salvador Guerzo's superior musicianship. Salvador is the son-in-law of Alfonso Soliano, the daddy of the Soliano family and Jazz Giant to whom this album is dedicated to.
Salvador's arrangement is fascinating and a work of pure genius. He is probably the best arranger in this genre in Malaysia. He incorporates plenty of dramas and breath-taking attacks in his arrangement, making every song sounds like a roller-coaster of high-drama and excitement. Really, we haven't heard Freedom's "Mulanya Disini" (a pop hit in the 80s by Freedom led by the late Dato Seha) or Bob Tutupoly's "Widuri" (An Indonesian classic ballad ) being played like this! The Solianos totally turn the table upside down with Ador's amazing arrangement, leaving everyone of us breathless and totally in awe.
We haven't even mentioned the wonderful multi-part harmonies of the Solianos, which is another winning aspect of this album. Imagine you can pin-point 7 voices singing in different notes in the soundstage, how could you beat that? The 3 females vocalists, Isabella, Irene and Tricia are wonderfully soulful and yet having their own distinctive tonal signature. We love their voices to bits.
We wouldn't go on and spoil your pleasure in discovering this album. Suffice to say, this is an instant classic the way it should be.
Pop Pop Music has hit the bulls-eye again for the 2nd time, we are damn sure. This wave is gonna be bigger than 2V1G.
In fact, one of the dealers said this to ML at the end of the listening session: "The album's repertoire, arrangements and musical presentation are extraordinary impressive!".
It is about time we have a timeless audiophile classic by a Malaysian music label.