1968, Music

Os Mutantes (1968)

Like so much popular music from countries other than the US and the UK, there is a tendency to overrate Os Mutantes’ debut simply because it is not American or British. I’m not sure this record would be considered so seminal had it been made by an American or British band singing in English. I’ll try to explain why.

Imagine a Brazilian pop (“Tropicalia”) version of the vaguely psychedelic garage rock that was all over the place in 1967-68, but through the lens of a less radical Frank Zappa (or the United States of America) and you get some idea of what does this sound like. At times, the only thing differentiating this music from American or British psychedelic pop and rock is the Brazilian music base, but at other times we get the musique concrete type song fragment collage more common with Zappa or the Beatles.

Without knowing Tropicalia or Brazilian music, this feels like a pretty unique take on it, given how psychedelic it is, and how much they’ve incorporated American and British influences. The arrangements are interesting but mostly haven’t dated because there are few “freak outs.” (The production is pretty lo fi though.)

It’s also worth noting that the melodies are quite strong, which is probably why this record has been so influential. (It has been particularly influential on ’90s indie rock.) Excepting the Brazilian music basis, this is much closer to the Beach Boys around this time (albeit more radical) than it is most of the psychedelic rock bands of the era.

But though it’s a novel take on psychedelia I’m not sure it’s quite the masterpiece claimed by so many fans. I have listened to a hell of a lot of psychedelic records and I don’t know that this is quite in the top tier, both in terms of the quality of the music and especially given when it was released.

Still, a novel take on the genre.

9/10 for influence

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