WEST TO EAST

1. Os Mutantes - Ave Gengish Khan

WEST TO EAST

From open access

Qalam strives to explore the interpenetration of different cultures. To this end, we have decided to launch a series of playlists in which music mediates between different geographical and ideological spaces. Our first playlist is called ‘West to East: One Hundred Best Songs’. It will be updated several times a week, and its curation will focus on how Western pop culture has reflected the realities of the East, whether they are musical, geographical, religious, or political. (The terms ‘West’ and ‘East’ should be taken as broadly and arbitrarily as possible.)

Os Mutantes is the most colorful band of the Tropicália movement, a dissident artistic movement that emerged in Brazil in the late 1960s, and of Brazilian rock music in general. They have had many different people in the group over the years, and their phenomenal singer Rita Lee died in May 2023. The song ‘Ave Gengish Khan’, which closes their 1968 debut album, is a carnivalesque, quasi-Beatlesque psychedelic ode that is replete with all the special effects typical of the time, such as flying keys and tape running backwards. Despite a certain playfulness in the arrangement, this song evokes a journey into the heart of an ancient steppe empire, and it certainly sounds a lot more interesting than the silliness of the German Eurodisco pop band Dschinghis Khan, which was popular in the Soviet Union.