Next Music, distributors of Pretoria based label Makotopong Sound Studios’ (MSS) catalog, would like to congratulate Complete for theirSAMA 24nomination for “Best Traditional Music Album”.
Complete are one of South Africa’s worst kept secrets. The quartet comprises founders and brothers Happy and Bonginkosi Motha and old time friends Bubele Mgeleand Mluleki Chuma. They have done their rounds and won many awards in their hometown of Ekurhulenibut still remain largely unknown in the wider South Africa. They were given their initial exposure in the 90’s by the inimitable Bra Hugh Masekela in the musical “Songs of Migration”.
This production had an extended run at the Market Theatre and subsequently toured the USA and the Netherlands. It is as a result of this tour of that Complete are perhaps better known in Holland Sweden, Denmark, and Germany than they are back home. This, their debut album aptly titled Isiqalo –The Beginning is a mix of songs which showcases the group’s harmonic prowess and versatility. The journey begins with Ingoma/Chantan acceptance of their calling to music. This song (ingoma variously means medicine or song or dance) opens the set with such power that you cannot but stop, hum along and join the dance.
The journey continues with Ezilalini a raw spiritual acknowledgment of the roots from whence one’s journey begins. The accompaniment here is reminiscent of the drumming in ritual ceremonies which would be performed to give thanks and to ask for protection from the ancestors before any long journey begins. The story of young men going out into the world to seek work and maybe fame & fortune will inevitably involve the longing for lovers left back home. The songs, Phone Call, Kumnandi, Beautiful Woman, and Wamuhle are such love songs.
Some with express painful longing and others the gentle smile of fond sweet memories, but all done in the Isicathamiya style made the world famous by 5 times Grammy winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The journey then moves on to the smooth, suave harmonies of the new urban experience. These songs, the iconic South African classic Lakutshon’ilanga, their own Ekhayaand their meditative interpretation of J.S. Bach’s Airremind one of the groups like the Soil, BoysII Men and Take 6 and show Complete’s ability to hold their own in the broader acapella world.
A South African traditional music album would not be complete without the battle cry “Shosholoza”. Whereas one associate this song with the 1995 Rugby World Cup its origins were in the pain, and anxiety but the secret excitement of young men traveling from the hinterland to the gold mines of South Africa. The feeling in this interpretation is one of celebration. It is presented here as one of triumph with swag on returning home safely to share their worldly experiences,
new found hope and riches with their loved ones. This album Isiqalo -The Beginning, produced by the legendary Themba Mkize offers exciting fresh listening for varied tastes, from the deeply traditional to the urban globetrotter, by an ensemble whose journey we are certain will be an epic one.‘’