Obscure Brazilian legends Os Mutantes are still with us, even as most people were not even aware of their presence. This is their second incarnation, following a 2000 reunion. The band made its bones and its legend the first time around, with the three records released between 1966 and 1978. This band has been making skewed pop music that has borrowed liberally from psych, folk, soft-rock, Caribbean rhythms and grooves only a Dr. Demento fan would love. Their first release of original material in 30 years, Haith…or Amortecedor, continues the band’s distinct exploration of sound.
Singer/guitarist Sergio Dias, together with recent additions of Tropicali legends Tom Ze and Jorge Ben, have not lost a step in the strong, earnest delivery of lyrics, which are most often beside the point compared to the dizzying sound-collages. An obvious influence on Beck, the Beasties’ Paul’s Boutique and Flaming Lips, among others, the Mutantes show on tracks like the creepy yet funky “Bagdad Blues” or the Weimar Republic-meets Pearl Jam of “Querida Querida” that they haven’t lost the vision thing.
The glorious disorientation that comes from listening to other tunes like “Teclar” and Gopala Krishna Om” must be experienced without wordy buildup. The band has created an almost anti-form form, a brew of world pop styles all their own, and, in their way, equal to some of the best of the Beach Boys or Love.
Epic and majestic, Haith…or Amortecedor… announces what may be a brief return for the legendary Os Mutantes. However long they stay this time, it looks to be a vital and head-spinning ride.