Os Mutantes

December 11, 2006

Among other things, 2006 saw the reunion of the Tropicalia Brazilian band Os Mutantes. (Twelve years too late for Kurt Cobain, sadly, who called for a reunion in 1993). Arnaldo Baptista, Sergio Dias and Dinho Leme played their first shows since 1978 (including the Pitchfork Music Festival), now with original singer Rita Lee replaced by Zelia Duncan.

Along with Tropicalia leaders Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes helped forge a musical movement part-psychedelic part-samba and Bossa Nova, that (although small and short-lived) remains influential on pop music today (see David Byrne, Beck’s Mutations to name a few).

Tropicalia was an expression of the leftist-political response to the oppressive military rule of Brazil, and both Veloso and Gil (who is now the Brazilian Minister of Culture) are known to have recorded vocal tracks while imprisoned as subversives. A new compilation, Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound, available on Soul Jazz Records, tries to capture the spirit and energy of the genre. Its timely release earlier this year earned relatively universal praise and is sure to win a new generation of fans.

Listen: A Minha Menina from Os Mutantes.

Os Mutantes: Panis Et Circenses

Os Mutantes now has a home on Byrne’s Luaka Bop label.

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