CD: Struggle Continues, The
When Jamie Catto (Faithless, 1 Giant Leap) met Aluta Lichaba in South Africa to write and record her duet with Michael Stipe for 1 Giant Leap, he made a mental note in thick black marker pen to return and make a whole album with her. Just months later, they were back in the studio creating what would become Aluta & The Mystics’ debut album 'The Struggle Continues', a rare gem that is due for Australian release during July.
Its not surprising that Aluta left such an impression. Aside from her musical gift and stunning features, her story is one that sounds more like a movie theme than reality. And given that story she holds a irresistible and almost defiant positivity.
Her birth name, derived from the Portuguese phrase ‘A luta continua’ which was used as a rallying cry during Mozambique’s war for independence, is translated in English as The struggle Continues, aptly given to her when she was born during the struggle of the South African people at that time.
Due to the increasing conflict going on, and her parent’s involvement in the fight against apartheid and the injustice happening around them, the family was forced to flee from South Africa in the boot of a car. Settling in a refugee camp for a year, then moving to a home in Mazimbu, not far away from a small town called Morogoro, Tanzania provided by African National Congress (ANC). Aluta lived with her family amongst many other South African who had fled for their lives, for another 9 years before eventually being safe to return to South Africa.
In those days in South Africa, ANC members were taken away and still nobody knows what happened with many of them. It was not safe for my parents to be in South Africa because the cops were looking for my dad
The notions of ‘struggle’ for her, her family and her beloved country would become the cornerstone of future Aluta and The Mystics recordings, with the other cornerstone being Reggae music.
Fast forward more than ten years, Aluta and Jamie settle into in a small studio in Johannesburg to begin the recording process. With the lyrics and heritage of reggae perhaps more attuned to the present day climate of South Africa, with the rallying calls of emancipation and One Love, Catto invited renowned Reggae/Roots producer Nick Manasseh Raphael to collaborate.
Also a collection of acclaimed international reggae musicians contributed to the recording process, including lead and slide guitar, congas, percussion, alto sax, organ, horns, tenor and soprano sax trumpet and viola, making the album change dynamically and acoustically on each track, but keeping the tread of the album tighly woven together.
Kicking off the album by paying homage to one of Reggae’s greats, Aluta & the Mystics give their own rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Mellow Mood’ before easing us into their rolling reggae vibe of ‘Things’. ‘Shake your Bones’ is trademark reggae at its best and will get your hips shaking and head nodding during these colder months ahead. The charming ‘Ain’t No Money’ reminds us that money wont hold your hand when you need a hand to hold – a truth that we should all remember in this life of excess that we lead. ‘Back To You’, featuring Brother Culture gives us a glimpse of what it must be like to overcome a childhood of fear, change and finding a road back to home. ‘Every Little’ features Jamie contributing his vocal talents to give the track add a different dimension to the album.
This is a delicately beautiful album with spirit, positivity and soul-nourishing rhythm that will linger with you long after the last track has finished.
'lush vocals complement laidback, soulful dub/reggae music full of rare restraint, organic simplicity and sparkling beauty' – The Age
“I liked this CD at first listen, but after playing it a few more times it really grew on me, and now I love it! Aluta has a husky, mellow tone that is easy to listen to. The album has an almost bluesy sound that fits really well with the reggae band, resulting in something quite new & different. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.” – Kathryn Dodd, SA
“I love the music, great reggae beat and a wonderful soulful voice. Very easy listening music for chill outs at home and even better, great music for entertaining. The upbeat tempo is catchy and encourages all to get up and dance.” – Janette Curtin, NSW
“Aluta and the Mystics … what a great Album. I've played this album to death! Aluta's earthy voice shines through this album. There's an element of reggae that runs through many of the tracks and coupled with the melodic African beats, makes a really original sound. With catchy tracks like 'Shake Your Bones' to the simplistic rendition of 'Cottage in Negril' and the chill-out track at the end make this a winner. Will be looking out for the next album! Good stuff.” – Diane Jones, WA
'soul nourishingly good' – TNT Magazine
Album of the week – 3PBS FM
'Aluta's voice is very easy on the ears: laid back, likeable and obviously sung with a smile. It’s richly produced, varied and warm. Whether admired as a statement or simply enjoyed as good music, this is reggae at its most accessible' – Rave Magazine
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