Brazilian Legends Os Mutantes @ Beachland September 30

30 07 2009
Os Mutantes
Os Mutantes @ Beachland

Can you say ‘show of the year’?  If you’re into bouncing Brazilian beats, kitchen-sink weirdness, and just sunshiney pop fun, you don’t need to be hip and with the pages of NME (the UK’s New Music Express, for those not in the know).  Brazilian legends Os Mutantes will flip and trip you at the Beachland on September 30th.  After a 35 year hiatus (not as long as the Tribe’s drought, no?), Os Mutantes are releasing a new album, entitled Haih this September 7th on the reknowned ANTI label (home to Tom Waits, Neko Case, and other luminaries).

While music nerds are stumbling over themselves, samba-ing clumsily in ecstasy, you might ask yourself, “Who are Os Mutantes?”  The aforementioned New Music Express cites thusly:

The fact that Os Mutantes was ahead of its time is well illustrated by the fascination of late 90s North American alternative-rockers with the band’s mix-and-match aesthetic. Even in another language, the message is clear: everything’s fair game. For all the tripped-out sounds of the late 60s, there is little to compare to Os Mutantes’ combination of pop packaging and avant garde weirdness.

Formed in 1965 by brothers Sérgio Dias (b. Sérgio Dias Baptista, 1 December 1951, São Paulo, Brazil) and Arnaldo Baptista (b. Arnaldo Dias Baptista, 6 July 1948, São Paulo, Brazil) and singer Rita Lee (b. Rita Lee Jones, 31 December 1947, São Paulo, Brazil) and with the technical expertise of another brother Cláudio behind them, the band first made a real impact backing singer Gilberto Gil at the 1967 TV Records song festival. They shocked the audience with their wild style and electric guitars. The following year at São Paulo’s International Song Festival, they accompanied Caetano Veloso as he performed “É Proibido Proibir” (It’s Forbidden To Forbid), and the band’s psychedelic sound and progressive fashion sense (plastic clothes) again caused an outrage. That same year they recorded their self-titled debut album and also appeared with Gil, Veloso, Tom Zé, and others on the landmark Tropicália Ou Panis Et Circensis, the battle cry of the tropicália movement. On subsequent albums Mutantes (1969) and A Divina Comédia Ou Ando Meio Desligado (1970), they continued to plunder rock and Brazilian roots to stunning effect.

Let’s put those words aside for a moment and let them sizzle in a feijoada skillet, so that your ears and eyes can pick up on this brief bit of Mutantes history.   The remarkable thing, as you’ll see, is that these kids were somehow able to be their country’s pop superstars while mixing in post-Sgt. Pepper psychedelia and annoying Brazil’s dictatorial regime.

As you can see, Os Mutantes’ whirl of sound was born during the tempest of the late Sixties.  And not unlike their US counterparts, they voiced protest while still embracing aspects of their ethnomusical heritage.  Here are Os Mutantes backing up Brazilian giant Gilberto Gil on some straight-forward swingin’ stuff:

And here they are again, in 1970, serving up some Pink Floydian fun:

A video (Globo being one of Brazil’s big networks) details Os Mutantes’ trip to the States a few years back.  Though the interview’s all in Portuguese, the tune they play is also rendered in English.  More audio for eager ears is featured at The Hype Machine, too.  A brief listen to these cuts will put a smile on your face–we assure you!

More on this remarkable show in this space very soon.  Before the rest of the Midwest rolls up to CLE for this party, order your tickets HERE.


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