Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mas Mutantes

Play it: Os Mutantes - Best songs not on Everything is Possible (From their three first albums, reissued today)

The landmark first three albums from Brazilian pychedelic superstars Os Mutantes see their reissue today, via Universal Music Latino (and Light in the Attic.) Fresh off of their triumphant reunited tour of the US (and show in London back in May,) it's fitting that these albums finally see an official release here in the states. I just wish they'd reissued them in anticipation of the tour, as the band could only sell $20 import CDs at their merch booth, and while plenty were buying, I know the stateside reissues would've sold a lot more at $10-15.

The first album, Os Mutantes, really is a benchmark album for the whole Tropicalia movement. These three clasically trained teenagers took traditional Brazilian sounds and turned them on their ear - literally. They'd heard music from the US and the UK and wanted to incorporate the sounds into what they were doing but had no access to effect pedals that were employed in what they heard from the British invasion. Sergio and Arnaldo's brother (Claudio) was a electrician-hobbyist and would reengineer these sounds they heard and try to re-create the effects for them. It's because of this that their sound is so unique and familiar at the same time. Sometimes I wish I could go back and listen to this album for the first time again, as it is such an incredible experience that I can never do again. Seven songs from this debut made it on to the David Byrne curated greatest hits, Everything is Possible.
Play it: Os Mutantes

The second album, Mutantes, is more of the same zaniness, starting right off the bat with the impossibly complex "Dom Quixote" (which they opened their show with in Seattle.) "Dois Mil E Um" ("2001") has always been one of my favorites, as it takes a traditional Brazilian folk song and then sends it to outer space and back, for an enjoyable yo-yo-like listen. Similarly "Não Vá Se Perder por Aí" is steeped with tradition even in the face of a back beat and fuzz guitar. And "Rita Lee" is just Sgt. Peppers' era brit-pop fun.
Play it: 'Mutantes'

By the third album (Divina Comedia Ou Ando Meio Desligado) it was obvious that it was not merely cannibas having an affect on creativity, but also LSD. Songs like "Ando Meio Desligado," "Ave, Lúcifer" and "Oh! Mulher Infiel" were further down the line towards the acid-drenched rock of 13th Floor Elevators (or, Pink Floyd had Syd Barrett stayed on board.) But, with Rita Lee still on board, the band couldn't stray too far, so playful songs like the crazy doo-wop of "Hey Boy" standout in the thick psychedelica. The fun, though, really lies with the Janis Joplin homage "Meu Refrigerador Neo Funciona," which devolves into Sergio singing a mock-ode to his broken refrigerator. A must listen, as with all three albums.
Play it: 'Divina Comedia Ou Ando Meio Desligado'

If this is your first time through this stuff, I'm so jealous (soooo JEALOUS!)

Light in the Attic reissues entire Os Mutantes back catalogue (with Sergio Dias interview)

More Portuguese please (Live Os Mutantes review)
Bread and Circuses (Os Mutantes documentary)
Everything IS possible!
What Kurt Cobain couldn't do (Os Mutantes reunite/Tecnicolor reissue)
Estudando o Tom Zé (review of Estudando o Pagode)

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drake leLane said...

Best Mutantes not on Everything is Possible

* "Tempo No Tempo (Once Was A Time I Thought)" - Os Mutantes
* "Ave Gengis Khan" - Os Mutantes
* "Don Quixote" - Os Mutantes
* "Não Vá Se Perder Por Aí" - Os Mutantes
* "Dois Mil E Um" - Os Mutantes
* "Rita Lee" - Os Mutantes
* "Quem Tem Medo De Brincar De Amor" - Os Mutantes
* "Meu Refrigerador Não Funciona" - Os Mutantes
* "Hey Boy" - Os Mutantes
* "Jogo De Calçada" - Os Mutantes

drake leLane said...

it should be noted, that this best of list is just for the first three albums... as there are of others from Tecnicolor, Jardim Electrico and E Seus Cometas that would have to be included as well.