Os Mutantes

Released 1968 on Omplatten
Reviewed by ur, 16/08/2000ce

I've always suspected that rock n roll was a strictly anglo-American affair (just like melodrama is an Italian thing: can you imagine a tenor singing in English?). Of course there were excellent German or Scandinavian bands, but for us, poor Latins, rock music remains a strange creature, whose habits are still wrapped in absolute darkness. Our black curly hair are definitely against us.
The only exception I know of this cruel rule are Os Mutantes from Brazil, one of the most incredibly adventurous bands ever.
Deeply rooted in the best tradition of brazilian music, Os Mutantes managed the perfect collision between the rhythms of bossa and samba with the whimsical melodies of psychedelic pop. The Baptista brothers plus lovely singer Rita Lee synthesized a wonderful blend of Beatles and Mothers of Invention, mixing these rock elements with the tradition of their country: the result was a beautiful, fascinating kind of pop that's almost impossible not to love. Frail and childish, it has an enormous freshness, with ideas that flow incessantly against the simple pattens of the songs. This first release is probably the most accomplished, but even the second and third album have their moments (and please consider that at the moment of this lp they were aged between 15 and 19).
No filler, not a weak moment: the strings and brass arrangements (courtesy of R.Duprat) are lush and imaginative: the studio trickeries always improve the quirky songwriting, giving more depth to their bizarre sonic constructions. A perfect pop song like Panis et Circenses all of a sudden is devasted by a Cageish sound collage; A Minha Menina is more typically brazilian, but the fuzz guitar capsize the atmosphere in something totally different; O Relogio and Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour are strongly reminiscent of sixties french pop (à la Françoise Hardy), but slide on the verge of anarchic chaos, with a subterranean tension that cracks on the otherwise immaculately crafted surface. Baby, instead, is a silly take of the Caetano Veloso classic (complete with slurps and quirky sounds).
This album is an excellent occasion to discover one of the best bands of the Sixties, really on the same league of groups like Left Banke

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