Sixties Brazilian band Os Mutantes were named by a Who’s Who of revolutionary musicians, from Beck to Kurt Cobain, the latter of whom pleaded in a 1993 open letter for the band to reform. More recently, David Byrne has re-released choice tracks from the act’s seminal catalog through his label Luaka Bop.
Now, Os Mutantes – one of the most influential international bands of the psychedelic era – are set to bring their tropical-flavored mind candy to Paper Tiger on Saturday, October 29.
Though decades removed from their classic heyday, the band, fronted by original member Sérgio Dias, is no mere “remember when” retread of itself. Instead, the new incarnation has garnered rave reviews, both for its post-2000 reunion albums and its electrifying concerts.
Formed in Brazil in 1966 by Dias, Arnaldo Baptista and Rita Lee – all teenagers at the time – Os Mutantes fused the seductive bossa nova and samba rhythms of their home country with the emerging psychedelia of The Beatles. The band donned costumes and infused their music with playful irony and youthful irreverence.
Soon, Os Mutantes became part of the nascent Tropicália movement – a flowering of Brazilian music and culture galvanized by the country’s harsh political climate. A 1964 coup, backed by the US government, had installed a repressive military government in Brazil, and the stuffy cultural landscape was full of fabricated pop stars.
Tropicália, and Os Mutantes in particular, challenged this status quo through a series of groundbreaking television appearances and releases. The movement culminated with the 1968 Manifesto album Tropicalia: or Panis and Circenciswhich featured Os Mutantes alongside Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, all of whom became Brazilian musical legends.
The performance of Os Mutantes accompanying Veloso at the International Song Festival in Rio nearly sparked a riot – with right-wing students bombarding left-wing Tropicália performers with eggs, fruit and vegetables. Despite provocations by Tropicália, the Brazilian military regime held control until 1985.
Even so, Os Mutantes’ first three albums – Mutant Bones, Mutants and A Divina Comédia or Ando Meio Desligado – remain revered as creative masterpieces. Along with its lilting tropical feel and catchy melodies, the music incorporated studio manipulations, TV and film samples, elements of musique concrete, baroque arrangements, and even member Lee playing a hairspray bomb.
Indeed, Os Mutantes’ self-titled debut managed to land both at No. 9 on rolling stone‘s of the 10 Greatest Latin Rock Albums of All Time and at No. 12 on Mojo‘s 50 most released albums of all time.
Following a breakup of its original members, Os Mutantes hung it up in 1978.
However, heavy word of mouth among record collectors and shrink fans has led to a recent resurgence, and the band’s avant-pop even ended up adorning a McDonald’s advertisement. After a performance in 2006 for a Tropicália exhibition at the Barbican Center in London, Os Mutantes writes and records with renewed vigour. His last album, Zzyzxdiscontinued in 2020.
$20-$25, 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, Paper Tiger, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., papertigersatx.com.
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