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Arts and Entertainment

Os Mutantes: 'Haih or Bara`una'

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Mutantes_foto_[1].jpg
Os Mutantes will be performing this Friday at the Echoplex | Picture via Os Mutantes' Myspace


Os Mutantes will be performing this Friday at the Echoplex | Picture via Os Mutantes' Myspace
If you are already familiar with the music ofOs Mutantes, the Brazilian Tropicalia band, you will be very pleased to know that Sérgio Dias Baptista has again unleashed his eclectic sensibilities in sound, instrumentation, music and themes to produce an album, Mutantes' first new music in 35 years, that fits like a velvet glove around the throat of today's cultural, political and economic necrophilia. And if you aren't, imagine an alternate universe in which Devendra Banhart, Frank Zappa and Tom Waits join Sérgio Mendes for a drink, then invite Sinead O'Connor and Lani Hall over to join them, and they decide to write music that will make everyone want to dance while they paint murals representing peace, love and justice on the government buildings. Something like that, anyway.

Given Os Mutantes' origins as early and important players in the vibrant Tropicalia scene that swept late 1960s Brazil, one might assume this new collection from Anti- is either a retrospective of early recordings (look to Luaka Bop's 1999 collection Everything Is Possible for that), or the molding fruit of another aging rock / pop star needing to finance their 4th of divorce. Far from either, 2009's Haih or Bara`una—12 new songs and an introductory piece of what sounds like spoken word Russian that I hope someone will translate and send to me—is a contemporary and compelling offering of eclectic musical mastery that uses and fuses the sounds and styling of Africa, Brazil, American and British psychedelic rock, pre-WW2 French cabaret with any reason you might have for wanting to celebrate being alive into a rhythmic musical mélange.

Os Mutantes - "Anagrama"

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Though missing the collaboration of original band members Rita Lee and brother Arnaldo Baptista, Sérgio has stayed true to the energy, the fire and the love of diversity in music and in life that was the driving force behind the band. This new work includes a notable and thrilling collaboration with the legendary Jorge Ben Jor and Tom Zé, founding participants in Tropicalia—the tumultuous, chaotic and passionate collision between the old world and the modern, between European and South American culture, between the mechanical universe and the mystical, expressed in fashion, art, literature and, as beautifully represented by Os Mutantes' music.

Haih or Bara`una will please both long time fans and first time listeners. Notable American champions of their music have included Kurt Cobain, Beck (who titled his 1998 CD Mutations in reference to the band, and wrote the song Tropicalia to celebrate their music), the Flaming Lips (who hosted their long-awaited return to LA in 2006 for a rare appearance at the Hollywood Bowl), and Luaka Bop owner David Byrne (Talking Heads), who has used his label to rediscover and promote the music of Os Mutantes and Tom Zé, eventually resulting in this seamless collaboration. If you like music, and if you like the instruments that make music, and if you like those instruments in the hands of wonderful musicians and like all of it thrown together in a way that makes you want to dance, laugh at life's absurdities and expand your consciousness all at the same time—you are going to like Os Mutantes just fine.

Os Mutantes performs Friday, August 28 at the Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd. 8:00pm.

By Randy Eliopulos, Special to LAist