Three Brazilian teenagers start a garage band. They know nothing of music theory, have no equipment (they built their own guitar pedals and used tin cans as cymbals), but lots and lots of cannabis. Though the existence of Os Mutantes is in itself unremarkable, what is mind-blowing is the top-notch quality of the music. These three teens, Rita Lee (vocals), Sergio Baptista (guitar), and Arnaldo Baptista (drums), while attempting to mimic their heroes in the states, were able to surpass them. This was due to their inability to adequately imitate (due to their geographic isolation), and the band's unfettered creativity. For these reasons, their meld of otherworldly guitar noise, crisp harmonies, and propulsive drumming found no equal among American counterparts like the 13th Floor Elevators and the Electric Prunes. While these bands just picked up where Sgt. Pepper's left off, Os Mutantes made music that had no point of reference until almost 30 years later. This album is one of their best, and it showcases the band's ability to morph genres into their own warped originality. The opener "Ando Meio Desligado" beats American psychedelic rock at its own game, combining a great hook with untamed guitar theatrics and sound effects. On "Meu Refrigerador Neo Funciona," Rita Lee does Janis Joplin while Sergio overdubs his patented weirdness. "Desculpe, Baby" is a deceptively simple but intricate ballad, while "Hey Boy" turns doo wop on its head, contorting it into a whole new form. With each listen, A Divina Comedia on Ando Meio Desligado unveils new secrets, making it well worth the price of admission -- lower than ever now that it's been reissued stateside.
AllMusic Review by Ari Wiznitzer