“I’m rebirthing my sound. I’ve always been unafraid to experiment on every album. With this record, I’m more confident as an artist than I have ever been.”
Oro, Plata, Mata
Virgin Music Australia
Mo’Ju has been on the Australian music scene since 2008 and recording since 2012. They have been on a personal journey through four albums exploring various musical styles and genres; and significantly as a third culture person of Wiradjuri and Filipino blood, the deeply personal notion of family and identity. This reached an apotheosis with their brilliant and acclaimed Native Tongue in 2018.
The current album Oro, Plata, Mata takes its name from Mo’Ju’s late uncle Peque Gallaga’s (a celebrated Filipino filmmaker) historical war drama, the title translates as Gold, Silver, Death and again returns to the well of family and identity as they spread their musical wings and share vocal duties on several tracks with Ngairre, Meklet and Ryo & Warri.
In its title and structure, Mo’Ju’s album is an homage to Gallaga. The three tracks representing the title are short, eerie and near-identical morsels, after which follow three songs each: (Oro): Gold, Money, Midas; (Plata): Something to Believe In, Bran Nue Wurld, Change Has To Come; (Mata): The Future, World Would End and Swan Song. This approach binds an ambitious but tightly written record.
The album sees Mo’Ju in a quieter and reflective mood and the three chapters are brief interludes that feature narrations by Mo’Ju’s aunt, Madie Gallaga.
Oro opens the album with a quiet instrumental intro building quickly before voices chime in before its sudden ending. Gold follows a low husky voice over a melodic arrangement that progresses to an assured rap.
Plata contains the funky neo-soul of Change Has To Come with the line: “I believe in love rising above hatred”; a stirring song especially when experienced live. It’s the album’s most upbeat track and feels like an Antipodean counterpart to Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come.
It’s during the Mata section that the music becomes more reflective and having become a parent since their last musical outing, in The Future, Mo’Ju reflects on the state of our planet and what sort of world faces their child.
World Would End makes a point of over-inflated egos and the need to acknowledge our place in the world.
Featuring Meklit, Swan Song is the closing as well as the album’s longest track and features a beautiful melody and a plaintive plea of: “Let me love like there’s no tomorrow”.
Oro, Plata, Mata cements Mo’Ju as one of our most important and fearless artists; one who continues to confront the challenges of our world and our place in it with love, respect and hope.
Embrace the message and the album.
Review by Stephen Corvini