Signs of a Struggle

Studio Album by released in 2005

Signs of a Struggle review

Mattafix' very diverse background gives Signs Of A Struggle its uniquely effective sound

Every once in a while a single is released to radio that, whether or not you like it, you can't get it out of your head. With its infectious beat and indecipherable lyrics Big City Life was the first single off Signs of a Struggle, the debut record by Mattafix (Marlon Roudette and Preetesh Hirji). The unlikely duo’s friendship was set while working together in a recording studio. Unlikely, as according to their biography, Roudette and Hirji should not even be friends. One is a steel pan virtuoso and the other a self-confessed computer geek; one an Anglo/West Indian brought up in tropical St Vincent, the other and Indian raised on London's rough and tumble Harrow Rd. But thanks to a common love of music and chance meeting at a recording studio, a friendship was formed and Mattafix was born. It is the duo's very diverse background, which gives Signs of a Struggle its uniquely effective sound. Drawing inspiration from hip-hop, house, roots reggae, blues, jazz and calypso amongst others, Mattafix has managed to create and perfect sounds, which many past groups have tried and failed. All tracks on Signs of a Struggle are written and produced by Mattafix with additional production and mixing by Jim Abyss (Kasabian/UNKLE/Placebo), Craig Silvy (Magic Numbers/The Coral), Steve Dubb and Seggs (Roots Manuva/Chemical Brothers) and Johnny Dollar (Neneh Cherry, Massive Attack).

One of the big appeals of this album is Roudette and Hirji's use of different music genres

Big City Life may have been the duo's breakthrough single with it's combination of reggae, funk, deep bass and house but there are plenty more samples on this album to please even the staunch. As mentioned, one of the big appeals of this album is Roudette and Hirji's use of different music genres to make each song different from the next. Just when you think you have an idea of what they're all about, they go and throw another spanner in the works to keep you wanting more. Gangster Blues, featuring Robbie Shakespeare of the legendary Sly & Robbie on bass, is a classic example of the experience Roudette and Hirji bring to this album – the Caribbean reggae and London's world-renowned house influence. Delve further and you come across the likes of the beautifully euphoric Passer By, which wouldn't sound out of place at a Woodstock convention, the very R&B sounding To & Fro, featuring ex-Sugababes Siobhan Donaghy on backing vocals, and Clear And Present Danger which offers the chill out factor that is the only familiar aspect of this album. The highly emotive Everyone Around You has beats, strings and Marlon's instrument of choice, the steel pans, all in the mix. The fourteen songs on this album highlight the musical range and depth of this young and incredibly talented UK band.

Signs Of A Struggle is all about music today

The common denominator Signs of a Struggle is the stylish tenor of Roudette, the musicianship of Hirji and the poignancy of their creations. Against a bluesy backdrop of melancholic beats and dubbed out funk, the pair sing, rap and toast about urban anomie, turbulent relationships, family feuds and lost opportunities. Many albums can boast booming bass, and many more contain beautifully crafted songs with thoughtful lyrics, but very few releases can claim to have both. Mattafix fits into this unique category. Signs of a Struggle is all about music today. Marlon Roudette and Preetesh Hirji have managed to bring in all types of music genres, throw it in a blender and create music samples to satisfy all tastes. Mattafix has been described as the next Portishead or Massive Attack, and it's easy to see why. Their brand of dub-heavy grooves and cool songs has become a talking point ever since single, Big City Life, was released. And now their debut LP is proving an equally intriguing prospect. Sounds Of A Struggle is the product of two obsessive music fans with nods to everything from Nirvana to Notorious BIG. Spacious and questing, Signs of a Struggle has ‘immediate classic’ written all over it.