On a cold rainy drizzly evening, as winter fades away, I sit and listen to things to come. Sounds evocative of Donovan and Stan Getz, Jefferson Airplane and Bert Jansch, even classical greats such as Bach are meshed together, seeping into my ears and throughout my body. Folk, psychedelia and jazz amongst others are blended together perfectly by the Os Mutantes, with the Bossa Nova-esque groove throughout which gives their self-titled debut a little sunshine touch. Aided by the home-made fuzz pedals, the hazy summers of childhood are brought to mind. However, despite seeming so easy and carefree, Brazil was not: The country was under military rule in which all forms of media were under strict censorship. Perhaps it is these hardships that defined the Tropicalia movement of the time, epitomized by such artists as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, who fused the psychedelic sounds of London and San Francisco with their own traditional rhythms. Alas, Veloso and Gil were extradited to England due to their radical views.
The album opens with a marvelous horn section, reminiscent of The Beatles and Love, with beautifully airy harmonies over the top. The band eventually stops for tea… coming back in with a chorus style coda. Continuing what they started, Os Mutantes’ dream-like melodies, driving straight Latin beats and heavy guitar lines burrow deep into the depths of your soul, obscuring the dream of yesterday and care for the future. However, Os Mutantes have much more to offer – Jazz harmonies and structures give the listener something that is often overlooked by many people, simply because of stigmas attached to such genres. There are many extraordinary moments to this album, but listening to this album for the first time I was taken away by Track 5, ‘Baby’, and still am. The sweet vocals building up into the chorus with added harmonies, accompanied with one of the smoothest Hammond sounds I have heard in a long time. Being a psychedelic band there are the acid moments: the dripping of water, reverberating echoes, wooshes and fire-engines.
Alas, all highs must come with a low. After releasing several more albums, such as the prog-rock OAeoz, the band slowly disintegrated and disbanded. But with recent popularity among musicians such as Kurt Cobain and REM, Os Mutantes reformed in 2006 to do several performances, including one with The Flaming Lips in New York. Here’s hoping they’ll come to England again someday.