Os Mutantes Reunite for One Night Only
David Nadelle and Amy Phillips report:
What Kurt Cobain couldn't do, a London arts center will: on May 22 at the Barbican, Brazilian psychedelic rock legends Os Mutantes will perform for the first time since 1973. Unfortunately, brothers Sergio and Arnaldo Baptista (as well as drummer Ronaldo "Dinho" Leme) are not scheduled to perform with original singer Rita Lee. But as Meat Loaf would say, two out of three ain't bad.
This remarkable concert is part of the Barbican's "Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture" festival, which is on now and will continue until May 21. The celebration of music, art, film, theatre, and dance examines the revolutionary Tropicália movement of late-60s Brazil. Government censorship inspired a creative outburst of provocative and spontaneous art.
Musically, the scene exploded after the 1968 compilation album Tropicália ou Panis et Circensis, attracted worldwide attention. Os Mutantes began their career as the house band on a Brazilian TV show, but became weirder and weirder as time went on. They worked with Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, wore crazy costumes, put on multimedia performances, and recorded experimental sound collages long before it was cool.
In 1993, Cobain attempted to reunite the band, but they refused. Oh, snap! David Byrne's Luaka Bop label released the Os Mutantes compilation Everything Is Possible. Beck has also given the band mad props. So this is a pretty big deal.
Other performers during the Barbican's Tropicália festival include such heavy hitters as Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé, as well as a "Tropicália Remixed" showcase featuring new arrangements from original movement collaborator Rogerio Duprat and UK special guests Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Sean O'Hagan (High Llamas/Stereolab), and Isle of Wight throwbacks the Bees. Check the Barbican website for additional installations, films, and live shows.
Despite Pitchfork's need to rely on Kurt Cobain and Beck to make Os Mutantes sound cool (because, seriously, Os Mutantes is infinitely better than either of those guys ever were), all I can say is: DAMN! WOW!