Recent years have seen ARIA-nominated musician and songwriter Mo’Ju enter new realms of renown, their brand of visceral storytelling striking at the heart of a country whose social and cultural climate was manoeuvring a particular state of unrest and change.
The inability to categorise where an artist such as Mo’Ju fits has been a common narrative throughout their career. However, the Naarm-based musician, songwriter, storyteller and third culture kid (Filipino/Wiradjuri), is not here to be boxed in and commodified. Their music is created in alignment with a central artistic vision that is built on truth, authenticity and most importantly, legacy.
Oro, Plata, Mata, the fourth studio LP from Mo’Ju, explores myriad themes and experiences, anchored by a direct homage to Mo’Ju’s late Tito (uncle) Peque Gallaga; the album’s title references Oro, Plata, Mata, a 1982 historical war drama Gallaga directed.
Whilst the overarching narrative is different, the album is similar to the film in the way it follows a three chapter structure; each chapter containing three songs that revolve around a central theme. Both the album and the film share the name of, and reference, a Filipino architectural superstition of the number three.
Oro, Plata, Mata threads sounds from the old and new worlds together in creating a sonic landscape that is contemporary and engaging. Kulintang (traditional percussion) blends with woodwind and dramatic piano, before careening into lush soundscapes marked by glitchy, almost industrial production.
“I’ve grown so much as an artist, and a person. With Native Tongue, I cracked myself wide open. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and expose more facets of who I am than I ever had before.
I went from having all this mystery, creating this mythology, almost playing a caricature, to taking the mask off, letting the walls down. Native Tongue was a brand-new chapter. Now, I’m here; this is me; I’m done explaining, I’ve got bigger ideas to talk about.” – Mo’Ju
Across twelve tracks, Mo’Ju explores the glorification of wealth and fame, as well as the privilege and pressure that comes from living in a capitalist society (Oro); spirituality, political change, the complex and beautiful human condition (Plata); Eco and existential anxiety and above all, a fierce desire to always be looking towards a brighter future (Mata).
For Mo’Ju, the last few years have been monumental in terms of professional and personal change. Becoming a parent as the world was entering a period of unprecedented turmoil, dramatically shifted their perspectives and priorities.
“Music was the solace that I found, it was the thing that gave me comfort through it all. I lost my grandfather in the first year of the pandemic. I had my first child. My world got smaller and I really needed that. It was healing and it reinvigorated me, reminded me I am making art, I’m not a commodity. My family is what matters to me. All the other stuff is noise. Writing music got me through the difficult parts of that but it also gave me lots of joy.“
Oro, Plata, Mata sees Mo’Ju emerge from a chrysalis of introspection and view the world with a fresh perspective. Shedding the pressures that carried over from the huge success of their last record, Mo’Ju engages in this new creative phase, reawakened, refreshed and looking to the future while drawing strength and inspiration from the past.
Release: March 24th, 2023, Virgin Music
Thanks to the kind folks at Virgin we have two copies of this rad album on vinyl to giveaway to a lucky listener – just fill out the form below to enter!