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"A" e o "Z"

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Album Review

There are six tracks on this 1973 album from Brazil's whacked-out Os Mutantes, who had mutated into a band without Claudio Baptista or Rita Lee. Arnaldo Batptista and Sergio Dias were still present and Dinho and Liminha had joined up, but the sound was completely different without Lee and Claudio Baptista to curb Arnaldo's drug-addled excesses. In fact, "A" e o "Z" sounds like a cross between Emerson, Lake & Palmer and PFM with Alex Chilton and Freddie Mercury on vocals. The heavy-duty Hammond organ and mellotron sounds are overbearing in the mix, especially as Dias treats them electronically, giving them more of an oppressive share of the soundscape. There are tons of key changes and arpeggios floating through the songs that make these pieces seem like aural poetry set to a confused combination of boogie rock and prog narcissism — check the title track, "Voce Sabe," or "Hey Joe" (no, not that one); with all the noodling going on and the crescendoing keyboards it's difficult to find a song in there anywhere. The saving grace on the disc is "Rolling Stones," with the killer interplay between the rhythm section that sounds more like Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice than Os Mutantes, but it still rocks, and then there's Dias' guitar: never overplayed, always in the cut, and always on the edge with a honey of a riff or a run. Too bad he didn't have total artistic control of the band at this point. It was seriously all over after this one.


Formed: 1965 in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '00s, '10s

Though rarely heard outside their Brazilian homeland (especially during the first phase of their career), Os Mutantes were one of the most dynamic, talented, radical bands of the psychedelic era -- quite an accomplishment during a period in which most rock bands spent quality time exploring the outer limits of pop music. A trio of brash musical experimentalists, the group fiddled with distortion, feedback, musique concrète, and studio tricks of all kinds to create a lighthearted, playful version...
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"A" e o "Z", Os Mutantes
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