Under Review: Os Mutantes – Haih… Or Amortecedor…

I’m willing to accept the fact that few people who aren’t me, Beck or David Byrne will make much of a fuss about a new Os Mutantes album.  That, of course, is grossly unfair, because any band that lies dormant for so many years before making a comeback is worth recognition, especially if they were (and are) as wildly influential as Os Mutantes.  To be clear, the band that is Os Mutantes now is not exactly the same Os Mutantes from 1968.  Essentially the project of singer/guitarist Sergio Diaz (Diaz’s brother, Arnaldo Baptisa and vocalist Rita Lee rounded out the original lineup), Os Mutantes have been performing live for a few years before releasing Haih… Or Amortecedor…, their first album of new material in 35 years.  Part of what makes Haih more than just a throwaway reunion album is the involvement of Tom Ze and Jorge Ben, who wrote songs for some of Os Mutantes’ early records.  So, how does the band sound after all these years?  Well, with its blend of Brazilian folk music and Western progressive and psychedelic rock, Haih certainly sounds like an Os Mutantes record.  Excepting a handful of phrases here and there, the entire record is in Portuguese, but even non-speakers can appreciate the political attitudes behind songs like “Baghdad Blues” and “Samba Do Fidel.”  Some of Haih’s best moments come from new vocalist Bia Mendes pulling off a great Rita Lee impression, such as on the rousing “Querida Querida” and the forro-meets-cabaret “2000 E Agarrum.”  Admittedly, Haih packs its best songs into its first half, which is not to say that the later tracks are all that bad by comparison.  As pretty as they are, “Nada Mudou” and the raga-inflected “Gopala Krishna Om” just aren’t as punchy as “Teclar” or the manic “O Careca.”  Then again, even an only mostly-incredibly Os Mutantes album is better than none at all.  With so many “classic” bands trying to pay the rent by staging a massive comeback (you know the ones I mean), it’s good to know that a truly great band like Os Mutantes is out there, too.

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~ by E. on September 7, 2009.

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