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Archive for the ‘Os Mutantes’ Category

enchanteSOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-Fool Metal Jack (2013).

jackI first heard this album streaming on NPR.  I really enjoyed it and was surprised by how diverse and yet still kinda 1970s hippie-feeling it was.

I didn’t know anything about the music of Os Mutantes before hearing this disc.  In a nutshell (and the details seem pretty complicated), they released 6 albums from 1968-1974 and then broke up.  They reunited in 2009 and this is their second album after reuniting.

I don’t know what any of them did during the intervening years, but it is clear that the psychedelic vibe they explored the first time around never fully left them.  Because even though there are rocking numbers, there are plenty of groovy organs and songs about love on the disc.  And yet the first songs I heard from the album were really quite rocking, so I was surprised by the mellow vibe as the album progresses.

There’s precious little information about the record on the record jacket, but I do know that Sérgio Dias wrote all the music and is the lead singer.  The disc opens with a kind of introductory song, “The Dream is Gone.”  It has a slow opening with cool bass lines and Dias’ voice which is soft and kind of worn sounding.  There are some cool electronic effects sprinkled around and big harmonies.  This leads to the second song, the stomping anti-war track, “Fool Metal Jack” (which I talked about here).  It’s got a big fat bass and menacing riff (as befits a war song). The song is graphic and ugly (with a loud cough in the midst of a verse).  It’s followed by the big old sloppy sounding rocker “Picadilly Willie” with big 70s sounding vocals (I’ve mentioned before that it sounds like Frank Zappa song to me, and it still does). These two songs are so loud and noisy they really belie the psychedelic vibe that the rest of the disc presents.

“Gangjaman” has a reggae feel (with a big round bass) and fun backing vocals.  While “Lookout” has a kind of Santana live at Woodstock vibe–a slinky rocking guitar and big chords.  There’s also some traditional (I assume) Brazilian native singers.  “Eu Descobri” is sung by a female vocalist (in Portuguese I assume) it is a pretty, slinky song with flutes and a cello and echoed vocals.  It hearkens back to the late 60s but still sounds contemporary.

“Time and Space” has more big bass (the bass really sounds great on this disc), but this one is a slow acoustic umber with excellent harmonies.  I love the layered vocals that reminds me of good prog.  “To Make It Beautiful” is an absolute hippie track with lyrics like: “I need to create love with you my love.” It has his great falsetto and buzzy guitars.  It is so far away from the early rockers and yet to me the album doesn’t feel disjointed.  “Once Upon a Flight” is a synthy/guitar rocker, but in a very 70s style. It’s also got a big cello solo at the end.  “Into Limbo” is a jangly slow guitar song with Dias’ voice sounding great.

“Bangladesh” has a long acoustic guitar intro with a very middle eastern feel.  By the middle it turns into a kind of prayer with a repeated chorus of: “Hare Jesus Hare Buddha Hare Judas Hare Rama Hare Krishna Hare Lucifer.”  The final song “Valse LSD” is a complex acoustic song with male and female vocals.  It’s quite pretty.  It doesn’t really feel like the end of the disc (I would have ended with “Bangladesh”), but it’s a good summary of the album as a whole.

 Since I am unfamiliar with Os Mutantes’ earlier work, I can’t really say how this fits into their discography, but I think this is just a great album and I’m looking forward to hearing more of their earlier works.

[READ: October 2, 2014] The Enchanter

naboI have had Nabokov on my list of authors to read for a long time.  I have read and enjoyed a few of his books and planned to read his oeuvre at some point, just not quite yet.  And then, as serendipity would have it, I stumbled on a book of his novellas (the Penguin classic edition) and decided to read them.  Because they aren’t really meant to be taken as one item, I’m going to mention them individually.

The Enchanter was Nabokov’s final work written in Russian.  It was never published during his lifetime.  The Notes to the story in the book suggests that Nabokov had a vague recollection of the story (with many details incorrect), but that he believed he discarded the original version when he moved to America.  He evidently found it after publishing Lolita, but did not feel compelled to publish it.  It was his son who translated and published it after his death.

The Enchanter is something of a precursor to Lolita in that it involves a man who is obsessed with adolescent girls.  What separates this from Lolita (although there are many similar plot contrivances) is the mental state of the protagonist.  He is disgusted by himself.  He knows what he does is wrong, he even imagines himself in animalistic ways.  And yet he cannot help himself.  (This is not to say that that is not present in Lolita, just that it is more or less the focus here). (more…)

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harperSOUNDTRACK: BECK/RECORD CLUB-INXS: Kick (2010).

inxsOf the four Record Club releases, this is actually the album I like least.  And that is mostly because of my college roommate.  He believed that rock music was the devil’s music (or so he told me).  And so he only had a couple of albums.  Most of the Beatles records (amusingly enough) and, totally randomly–INXS’ Kick.  So I got sick of this really fast.  It’s nearly 25 years later, so I’m okay with the album, and I do like some of the songs again, but boy can I pick out flaws.

This recording seems a lot more causal than the other Record Club releases—the original recording bleeds in front of some of the tracks and I believe they play around with the lyrics on a few.  They also really rearrange some of the songs, making them quite different from the original.

Form the Beck/Record Club site:

Record Club No. 4 is here…! Joining in this time we had three of my favorite bands— Liars, Annie Clark and Daniel Hart from St. Vincent, Sergio Dias from the legendary Brazilian band Os Mutantes, as well as RC veteran Brian Lebarton, just back from the Charlotte Gainsbourg tour. The record covered this time was 1987 blockbuster ‘Kick’ by INXS. The record was chosen by fellow Aussie, Angus from the Liars. It was recorded in a little over 12 hours on March 3rd, 2010. It was an intense, hilarious, daunting and completely fun undertaking. Thanks to everybody for being there and putting so much into it. Many classic moments, inspired performances and occasional anarchy.

Overall, I enjoyed this release quite a bit and found St. Vincent’s contributions to be quite excellent.  I didn’t know Liars before this, but I really like his voice.

Guns In The Sky (2:21). Loud drums open the song and the synth is buzzy and noisy. Angus’ vocals are very similar to Michael Hutchence’s.
New Sensation (3:40) Begins with a poppy synth rendition (and people rapping over it), but that’s like a teaser version. The real version is quite mellow and interesting—a very slow song sung by St Vincent and Angus from Liars.
Devil Inside (5:16) This sounds very different–it’s slow and menacing with a sax section.
Need You Tonight (3:06) St Vincent on vocals—a rather sexy version.
Mediate (2:32) The intro has them talking about the words they’ll use, like “shake and bake and wake and bake.” With much giggling.  Done as a simple rap over a handclap drum
The Loved One (3:37) This sounds like a sixties song–acoustic but kind of psychedelic.
Wild Life (3:10) Slow and a little creepy.
Never Tear Us Apart (3:06) This one has strings and synths–St Vincent sings this in a very beautiful way.
Mystify (3:18) Sung well by Angus with a slow picked guitar.
Kick (3:14) This is a buzzy punky version with an aggressive feel.
Calling All Nations (3:04) Acoustic guitar played and sung by St Vincent–it sounds very much like a St Vincent song.
Tiny Daggers (3:30) This is a silly electronic ranting song that ends up lasting 12 minutes (which is about 9 minutes too long).

Overall this has a raw feel that I like better than INXS’ more polished version. And anything with Annie Clark participating is a plus.

[READ: March 14, 2014] “The Mission”

This story started out as an interesting personal drama, with a very memorable scene.  A woman is sent to prison.  She will only be there for nine days (which the other inmates hear about and which causes them to grumble).  The drama comes when the try to remove her wedding ring but cannot (they have to cut it off).

The memorable scene is the reason why she was sent to prison in the first place.  She was drunk driving and drove into a cemetary. She crashed through the fence and into several gravestones.  The arresting offer’s opening remark was “You’re lucky you didn’t kill somebody.”  After a few days, she believes she is going to be released, but her lawyer informs her that things are going to be really rough for her out there–the people whose graves she broke are super mad.  So she should just hold tight and be happy to have some freedoms in here. (more…)

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bartelbySOUNDTRACKOS MUTANTES-” Picadilly Willie” (2013).

Iosmut enjoyed this album so much (thanks NPR for the stream) that I had to talk about this song and how radically different it was from yesterday’s track.  “Picadilly Willie” is this wonderful old-sounding rock song.  It’s got a very classic rock riff, but there’s something slightly off-kilter which makes it sounds more like Frank Zappa classic than radio classic.  And when the vocals come in (with a sinister laugh) it sounds more like Mr Bungle than anything else (I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Patton was a fan of Os Mutantes).

The song ends with what sounds to me like Middle Eastern sitar music and echoed chants of “Bra-zil!”

And these are just two of the styles of music on this wonderfully wild and diverse CD.  I can’t wait for its release.

[READ: April 22, 2013] Bartelby & Co.

I read about this book in the Bolaño interview book.  Vila-Matas was one of many authors that Bolaño highly recommended–this book in particular.  And, it was one of the few books on that extensive list that has been translated into English.

This book follows in the rich tradition of books that are more or less lists about people and not really novels at all. (This seems like a peculiarly Latin American pastime, at least in my experience, as there are nearly a half dozen books that seem to do this, including several by Bolaño).

The key to this book is in the title: Bartelby.  The narrator is a hunchbacked loner, and he decides to catalog all of the instances of writers who have in the grand tradition of Herman Melville’s Bartelby the Scrivener said “no, I would prefer not to” write anymore.  And so this book becomes a series of notes without a text.  The glorious list includes many famous and not so famous writers (the most famous being Salinger) who whether famous or not, decided to write no more.  And thus we have 86 “sections” in which the narrator writes about writers who stopped writing.  For most of the he gives their reason for no longer writing, for others he simply likes talking about how they stopped writing or what their circumstances were before they stopped. (more…)

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bolano

SOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-“Fool Metal Jack” (2013).

Iosmut have known about Os Mutantes for years.  I never knew anything about them (and never really understood their name–although now that I have been working with Brazilian books at work I realize that their name is Portuguese for The Mutants (it was the Os that always threw me off).  I had no idea that a) they’d been around since the 60s and were part of the psychedelic scene or b) that they were still around (after some breakups and with a largely new lineup) or c) that they sang in English (which they do on several songs on this album) or d) that their new album kicked so much ass.

The album is called Fool Metal Jack and it is a fantastic mixture of fast heavy rock, Brazilian traditional sounds, what I assume are Native Brazilian chants and a heavy dose of weirdness.  All wrapped up in an anti-war stance, like on this track “Fool Metal Jack.”

A creepy, distorted  bassline introduces this song which sounds like the guy from Gogol Bordello singing a Tom Waits march.  It’s about a soldier in the middle of a war.  The bridge means more voices come in, bringing in an even more disorienting sound.  And the chorus chanted “Yes.  No More War” completes the song.  By the time the wailing guitar solo comes in the chants of “This is the war of hell” have even more impact.

This stomping song was a great introduction to this band who I now need to explore further.

[READ: April 18. 2013] The Last Interview

I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Last Interview” and since I had always intended to read Bolaño’s I was delighted to see that our library had it.  Bolaño is a fascinating interview subject because you never really know what he is going to say.  There are even serious questions about the veracity of his life story which many people believe he fabricated for more dramatic effect.

But the one thing that is absolutely consistent about Bolaño is that he always praises writers whom he respects (and will trash those he doesn’t, although that seems to come more from the interviewer’s  instigation (not that he needs a lot).    So the last interview that he did is the one from Mexican Playboy which has been collected in Between Parentheses.  But the other three are earlier and, it seems, a little more “truthful” or at least less naughty-seeming.

What’s fascinating about this book is that the introduction by Marcela Valdes (“Alone Among the Ghosts”) is over 30 pages long!  The article originally appeared in The Nation on Dec 8, 2008 (read it here).  As such it’s not an introduction to this book, it’s introduction for English readers to Bolaño circa 2666.  And it’s a great read.  It is primarily about 2666, which Valdes has read many times.  She goes into interesting depth about the story but mostly she relates it to Bolaño’s own experiences while writing the book.  It focuses especially on his research about the real murders.  His interest was genuine and he sought help from a reporter who was doing genuinely decent work (ie. not accepting the word of the state about what was going on).

Bolaño has said he wished he was a detective rather than a writer, which explains The Savage Detectives and Woes of the True Policeman.  But Valdes also points out how almost all of his shorter novels have some kind of detective work involved–seeking someone who is lost or hiding.  The article was really great and is worth a read for anyone interested in Bolaño, whether you have read him or not. (more…)

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