The New York based schiz-rock trio Apeman claim the genesis for their latest record Mutantala came from hearing a radio interview with Brazilian psych-pop pranksters Os Mutantes, who cited their music was born as a direct response to “the oppressive society they lived in and, specifically, the heavy censorship of American and British rock and roll music.” Apeman liked the idea that Os Mutantes would then “structure their songs so that they would seemingly fit into the narrow parameters of what was ‘socially acceptable’ to play on the radio, while tactically imbedding their music with poached rock n’ roll riffs from popular music.”
This is of course some pretty heavy stuff to throw on a dude like myself who has just heard Apeman for the first time and whose appropriation with Os Mutantes is relegated to the occasional encounter at shows or parties over the course of his life with dudes who just got heavily into Os Mutantes and the occasional namedropping Pitch Fork reference. Needless to say I had to go back and associate myself with Os Mutantes in order to get a sense of what Apeman was trying to do.
Challenge accepted I delved into the Brazilian bands oeuvre searching for meaning and then re-listened to Mutantala again in a whole different way, seeing what they were going for. I immediately noticed the parallel sly patterns of destruction mixed with beauty, a way of getting “away with” the censorship that Os Mutantes apparently faced.
I also noticed some of the American rock band influence which Os Mutantes patterned themselves after like on the Velvet Underground inspired rocker “Moon” with its exhausted and laid back vocals amongst the lazy feedback of blues guitar riffs. Later I noticed the “garage rock” elements in place on the loudly destructive and beautiful Pixies sounding “Earthlings” which is also prevalent on the spastic rocker “Only Son” with its veritable vociferous screams and scratchy blues riffs. This sentiment also tacks itself onto the seven-minute long “The Olde King Doctor Blue.”
As much as I admire the brilliant concept, which inspired Apeman to make Mutantala, and I don’t mean this to sound like a golf clap by any means, though its title track comes closest to what I think Apeman were trying to do, the record occasionally falls short of its original intentions. It’s loud and raucous and fuzzy. But with the prevalent reincarnation of shoegaze it has a lot more competition these days and it seems to simply claw at the very meaning of what it intended, never really catching the grip of its influence.
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