Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes [1968]

Artist: Os Mutantes
Album: Os Mutantes
Label: Polydor

As of late, I've been listening to a lot of MPB, Bossa Nova and Tropicália, and when I think of Brazilian music, Os Mutantes are usually the first band that come to mind. The group's first, self-titled record Os Mutantes is the perfect place to start for the uninitiated. Perhaps the best description of their sound that I've heard to date is "imagine the Mamas and the Papas singing in Portuguese and adding psychedelia and samba to their harmonious pop tunes." And while this is obviously a simplification of what is a beautifully varied, joyous and at times naïve record, the whole 60's sunshine vibe is omnipresent alongside buzz-saw guitar work.

My first encounter with Os Mutantes was through a Tropicália compilation that I borrowed from a friend, and from the moment that the sloppily distorted seven-note guitar riff came through the speakers, it was love at first listen. It felt the same as the first playing of other classics like The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), The Beatles' Revolver (1966), or Les Rallizes Dénudés' '77 Live (1991), and comes across as Brazil's answer to these early experimental psychedelic records.

As proponents of the now legendary Tropicália movement, Os Mutantes' music was created under the extremely oppressive, authoritarian military government that controlled Brazil following the 1964 coup d'état. Amidst the chaos, a group of activists, musicians, experimentalists and hippies formed the Tropicália collective and for a brief period, were at the epicentre of an explosion of creative forces in São Paolo.

I think that an artist's best work is often created whilst in a state of oppression, whether through personal pressures, or a greater political struggle. In one form or another, I think all art is a vision of what could be. Os Mutantes' vision is one of peace, love and partying and I, for one, am with them all the way.


1) Panis et Circenses
2) A Minha Menina
3) O Relógio
4) Adeus Maria Fulô
5) Baby
6) Senhor F
7) Bat Macumba
8) Le Premier Bonheur du Jour
9) Trem Fantasma
10) Tempo no Tempo (Once Was a Time I Thought)
11) Ave Genghis Khan