Still Psychedelic, Influential, Political and Playful after all these Years - Os Mutantes Craft Triumphant Return with First Record in 35 Years
Founding frontman Sergio Dias Baptista and his new incarnation of the near-mythical Os Mutantes have signed with ANTI- Records with plans to release Haih - their first record in 35 years - on September 8th.
Os Mutantes were formed in Sao Paulo Brazil in 1966 by Sergio Dias and his brother Arnaldo, who blended their love of English rock n roll, culled from shortwave radio broadcasts, with American psychedelic in the spirit of Jimi Hendrix and traditional Brazilian music to create an entirely new sound to match an equally turbulent time in Brazilian history. While Os Mutantes were leading a growing youth mobilization as part of the Tropicalia movement alongside the likes of Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, their country was reeling in the midst of a military coup and ensuing artistic crackdown which eventually left Gil and Veloso imprisoned and exiled.
In the short years they were active, Os Mutantes crafted a distinctive, riotous and modern sound, experimenting with homemade instruments studio effects, traditional forms of Brazilian music, field recordings, unorthodox song structures and time signatures - and combining those with international influences in the form of pop music being exported out of England and the US in the late 1960s. Coupled with an overt political message embracing libertarian expression and artistic freedom, the few records Os Mutantes recorded have become enduringly influential. In the mid 1990s, 20 years after their last recording, Kurt Cobain famously issued a plea, begging for a reunited Os Mutantes to open for Nirvana. Since then, the band's importance has been cited by current alternative superstars ranging from the Flaming Lips and of Montreal to Devendra Banhart to Beck, who wrote "for years it [Os Mutantes] was pretty much the only thing I listened to."
Now Os Mutantes have found a home with other likeminded provocateurs such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Mavis Staples and Billy Bragg on the Los Angeles independent label ANTI- Records. 2006 saw a reunion of sorts, with the band playing a handful of shows in London, New York, the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, San Francisco and supporting the Flaming Lips at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, but it is the release of Haih in September that will mark the band's first recorded material since 1974 and their very first album to receive a worldwide release. Conceived by Sergio Dias with collaborations with other Brazilian legends Tom Ze (lyrics) and Jorge Ben (who wrote the song "Minha Menina"), Haih is a vibrant and timely return from one of world music's most important bands.
"Living the conception and birth of this album, as an individual, was the most intense experience, for it was as if time has ceased to exist, and I was bouncing from life to life, decades through decades, revisiting myself as a 16 year old boy playing guitar and feeling so free and, as any teenager, indestructible." Sergio Dias, May 2009