PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Os Mutantes: Ao Vivo

A vinyl reissue brings the oft-overlooked prog phase of iconic Brazilian rock group Os Mutantes back into the spotlight.


Os Mutantes

Ao Vivo

Label: Vinilísssimo
US Release Date: 2017-08-04
UK Release Date: 2017-08-04
Amazon
iTunes

In Brazil, perhaps no group is as symbolic of iconoclasm as Os Mutantes. A band known mainly for the experimentation it did around the Tropicália scene of the 1960s -- and the political controversy that came along with the group’s refusal to conform -- Os Mutantes has a lengthy discography and a reputation for the unexpected. By the 1970s, though, only one member of the original lineup still remained: Sérgio Dias, guitarist and composer. The sound evolved accordingly, and Vinilísssimo’s new vinyl-only reissue of the group’s 1976 live album, recorded right before a 30-year hiatus, shows the group playing it a little straighter. Ao Vivo is full-on progressive rock, with all the cosmic grandeur and occasionally overwrought melodic structure that entails.

From the gently psychedelic opening track "Anjos do Sul" ("Angels of the South"), Os Mutantes revs up quickly. The spiraling synths of "Benvindos / Mistérios" flow into the faster, heavier tread of "Trem / Dança dos Ventos". The album finally achieves total liftoff, and the group delivers on its reputation as notes slow down, stretch, and slide from pitch to pitch with reckless abandon. Dramatic ballad "Sagitario" finishes off the medley in zero gravity.

With this glorious introduction complete, the rest of the recording is nonstop energy. Decades later, much of it comes across as easily digestible classic rock, but don’t be fooled by sparkly guitar solos and power chords: the members of Os Mutantes prove that they can be just as creative with clean lines as they could in the looser squiggles of peak psych. Tracks like "Loucura Pouca é Bobagem" and "Hey Tu" sometimes sound like two songs playing at once, harmonious in their discord. Spiky proto-punk moments keep the audience good and agitated, providing some much-needed simplicity to keep the crowd from drowning in complex art rock.

Ao Vivo is an interesting choice for a reissue. It isn’t typical Os Mutantes material by any means and sounds a far cry from the outrageous live shows that saw them getting pelted with eggs by groups of conservative students shocked by their audacious performances and unwillingness to stay inside the box. Even in the twists and turns of the material played on Ao Vivo, there is a brightness, a feeling that everyone is just there to have a good time. By 1976, the band had gone down a rocky road -- drug abuse and creative differences sent four members of Os Mutantes their separate ways between 1972 and 1974, and an album recorded in 1973 would remain in limbo until 1992 due to disputes with the record company -- and perhaps this new direction allowed the group a place to retreat. The arrangements are intricate and fantastical, the perfect realm for a little escapism.

The group’s versatility has served it well: Os Mutantes’ last original release was only five years ago, and the band continues to tour and record. It may not inspire student riots, but Ao Vivo shows an oft-unexplored side of a band essential to Brazilian contemporary music - one worth sticking around to hear.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.