Os Mutantes – Os Mutantes

Brazil Month Reviews

Os Mutantes

Os Mutantes

Polydor – 1968

Rating: 9.8


Os Mutantes’ debut album is a psychedelic masterstroke – a record undoubtedly influenced by contemporary recordings from the likes of The Beatles, Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix, but one that charts its own utterly indefinable course. Few records in the pop canon are more melodious or charming in their brazen defiance of convention.

It’s morning. You’re awaken by a jarring brass fanfare that only lasts for a few seconds, and yet, you struggle to catch your breath for several moments afterward. It was a deep sleep that you woke from, but the sudden burst of adrenaline has now limited its effects.

Surrounded by a room that you’ve never seen before, you stretch, as the sound of a distant choir pulls you up and out of bed. The singing voices are unintelligible, but their melody is so light that you hardly feel your feet as they touch the floor.

Now, you take your first steps – awkward, lengthened strides, but effective, nonetheless. The choir is still there, but their melody is no longer as ethereal as before. Even though you can’t make out the words, the voices almost seem to mock the extended paces that bring you through the half-lit hallways of an unfamiliar house, downstairs, and toward a formal dining room.

When you arrive, the room is empty, though the table is set, and a candelabra flickers overhead. You stop and turn full circle, expecting to see the faces that belong to the singing voices, but none appear. You know that there’s someone nearby, but there’s no time to investigate.

Your next steps – still lengthy – carry you out to the garden. The sun is bright overhead, and a trumpet fanfare – different from the one that roused you out of sleep – has now joined the choir. You walk down a cobblestone path, pushing lush thickets of waxy leaves aside with each sluggish step.

Reaching the sidewalk that lies beyond a half-opened rod-iron gate, your already protracted steps slow even further, but after a dozen or so paces, you’re able to move freely at last.

No longer halted by an elongated gait, you finally notice a crowd on the busy street. Though all you can see are swinging arms and shuffling feet, the passersby sing the words of the choir; and though you still can’t understand its message, the insistent repetition of the same phrases seems to portend some kind of peril.

Your pace now quickens, slightly. The other pedestrians along the street have turned in your direction, but just as you realize this, the sidewalk in front of you melts away. Unable to halt, you tumble into a freefall as the scene around you fades to black.

When you wake up, you’re in a field, surrounded by tropical wildflowers. Some are species that you have seen before; others are unlike anything you’ve ever observed, either in person or in picture books.

A swarm of bees now buzzes faintly overhead. Initially, they appear unaffected by your presence. However, once you’ve been spotted, they quickly draw closer and closer. You stand, hoping to outrun the horde. Again, your pace begins slowly, but after several steps, you move freely, and faster than ever before.

Even at this hurried pace, you struggle to evade the swarm. Running even more quickly, the bees begin to descend, one at a time. As they strike, your visions flash back to the pictures that were set at each place on the elongated dining room table in the unfamiliar home. You didn’t even notice these portraits at the time, but their visages are now crystal clear with each piercing bee sting.

After several seconds of individualized stabs, the entire cloud of bees descends upon you. Then, as abruptly as before, you awake.

You’re at a sidewalk café – possibly Parisian, though you can tell that the language of the patrons is not French. All is calm, except for the clanging of cups and saucers, and the low rumble of a passing automobile. You’re alone at a table, and no one else seems to have even the slightest idea about the ordeal that you’ve just been through.

You look down at your phone and see that only one song from the album that you were promised “sounds nothing like anything you’ve ever heard before” has passed through your headphones so far.

Author

  • Matt Ryan founded Strange Currencies Music in January 2020, and remains the site's editor-in-chief. The creator of the "A Century of Song" project and co-host of the "Strange Currencies Podcast," Matt enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has a particular affinity for 60s pop, 90s indie rock, and post-bop jazz. He is an avid collector of vinyl, and a multi-instrumentalist who has played/recorded with several different bands and projects.

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