Psychedelic folk star Devendra Banhart, born in Texas, raised in Venezuela but, music wise, one of Brooklyns finest, has exposed more than once his enormous passion for Brazilian rupture movement Tropicalia (Tropicalism). Alternative band Tortoise joined forces with singer-songwriter Tom Ze, an exponent member of that late sixties fever, to write a truly interesting album. Many American and European musicians qualify Os Mutantes as all time best bands top 10 material, if not the first one.
It is no secret that Brazilian music has always been a challenging experience for foreign musical acts, let alone its suitable structure and how easy it is to just fall in love with it. When Bossa Nova left the country searching for new grounds, it quickly became Americas favorite. Back there, though, music took a direction towards anti-dictatorship. As noble as it should be, in a way, it got a little bit stagnated and an already culturally crushed people felt even more crushed. Tired of standing by, youngsters very connected to music, cinema, theater and literature started in 1968 what later would be known as Tropicalia. A liberating movement created out of the coming together of Brazilian culture, psychedelic trends and rock and roll. Popular music had finally welcomed electric guitars, a bunch of colorful, loud, messy rock shows and embraced a brief yet very important era to its history.
Almost two years later, anyways, Tropicalia baby life had to make room to the unavoidable cycle which reins over everything. A few artists kept trying and mixing it up, some others adapted their groove to new things, such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, the two main faces of the movement. On the other hand, Os Mutantes, broken in three pieces since then, is still experimenting and being as bold as usual. Their mutations are quite hype in Europe and they are still regarded as great here in the U.S..
That cycle, however, has its good sides. Tropicalia is being rescued this last decade and, behold: by North America. It still matters a lot in Brazil and it is possible to listen to its daring vibes pretty much all around. But since Devendra became an underground star and now a mainstream dude, Tropicalia has been conquering the world once again. His latest album, What Will We Be, is filled top to bottom with Latin and tropicalian influences. All that blended with his barefoot-shirtless-devil-may-care folk. He is now touring around the States. It is a great opportunity to see how translated Tropicalia sounds in the new century.