MEMOS FROM A MUSIC FIEND

BY ALEJANDRO MAGAÑA

Os Mutantes, “Os Mutantes” 1968

Os Mutantes: S/T

1968

Clearly, I love psychedelic music and psychedelia in general. I wish I could elucidate and articulate why this is but I find that language is limited in this regard. So I attempt to clarify: there is some element of psychedelic music that exalts the mysterious and seemingly magical, and psychedelic music in general attempts to transport the listener to other realms, other worlds, sometimes in lieu of ingesting psychoactive drugs or sometimes instead of such experimentation. This is why an older nomenclature used the term “head music” for psychedelic rock; its music that feeds the head visions, lets the mind experience alternative aural worlds.

A perfect vehicle for this is Os Mutantes’ 1968 debut. Part of Brazil’s “Tropicalia” movement during the 1960s, which wedded both the popular and avant garde with traditional Brazilian styles, offering a social critique of the Brazilian dictatorship of the time, the original trio of Os Mutantes, (The Mutants, in English,) was Rita Lee, Arnaldo Baptista, and Sergio Dias, three young provocateurs who combined traditionals styles such as bossa nova, samba, and tropicalia with the psychedelia of The Beatles, Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, all English language acts whom they loved. 

The results are pure musical alchemy: whimsical psychedelia with ripping fuzz guitar and funky grooves, “Sgt. Pepper”-esque chamber pop and musique concrete. It’s delightfully catchy with hooks and awesome group vocals in unique arrangements that are the aural equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it’s that delicious to these ears! These are truly some of the finest lysergically resplendent tunes since Syd Barrett went into interstellar overdrive. I’d highly recommend any of the first three records that have only garnered more acclaim and sealed their legendary status since their initial release. Definitely would have to be on the top 25 psychedelic rock albums of all time. If you’ve never listened to them, do yourself a favor and remedy that. 

Apparently Crawdaddy magazine stated that non-Portuguese speakers “might have no idea what the psychedelic popsters are singing about but the wild inventiveness and playful hooks of their debut speak loudly enough.” I couldn’t agree more. Another vital and essential album you must check out. Few records are more fun.

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