by Eric Sandy
Os Mutantes' latest album, Fool Metal Jack, expands on the band's pioneering approach first dished up in the late 1960s and 1970s. When they reunited in 2006 with several lineup shifts, the spirit of eccentricity and counterculture propelled them onward and into more contemporary times.
Contrary to much of their earlier work, Fool Metal Jack bears mostly English lyrics. That's a boon to the uninitiated, and this album may work well as an introductory window into Os Mutantes' special brand of madness.
The musicianship, to be straightforward, is frenetic. In "Picadilly Willie," chugging synth loops coil around the listener before the song fades into an ethereal, Amazonian landscape. Chants of "BRAZIL!" fill the air. And Os Mutantes push their influence deeper into the mist. Later, the feel-good vibes of "Time and Space" merge with thunderous bridges to highlight the band's dynamism. They've always been friendly to both quiet and loud approaches to their sound.
Album closer "Valse LSD" also builds toward an alternately menacing and enticing atmosphere. A sublime chord progression parts the cloudy percussion and allows the harmonizing vocal parts to work their magic. To be honest, Os Mutantes have cozied up to many juxtaposing musical elements throughout their career. They are, and have always been, an amalgamation of psychedelic rock, Brazil's own sociopolitical climate in the latter half of the 20th century and so much more.
As of the current roster of tour dates, the closest gig Clevelanders will have at their disposal is the June 27 show at Pittsburgh's Club Cafe. Toss that one on your calendar and check out the new album, embedded below.