Atomic Forest – Obsession

January 01, 1970

(Now-Again)

 

www.now-again.com

 

India’s
impact on pop music over the last five decades has been well-documented, from
The Beatles’ spiritual hang time with the Maharishi to George Harrison’s
creative partnership with Ravi Shankar to Jimmy Page’s implementation of raga
on Led Zeppelin’s “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side” to the likes of DJ
Shadow and Madlib making beat tapes out of old Bollywood soundtracks.

 

Yet
save for a minor fraternity of serious vinyl junkies, little did we laypeople
know of the existence of an elite demographic on the Indian Subcontinent that
embraced the sounds of Western psychedelic rock with an equal amount of
enthusiasm. And the best–and perhaps only–known act from this micro-niche of
the region’s otherwise booming music industry during the 1970s is Atomic
Forest, whose sole original album, Obsession
’77
, is one of the most sought-after titles by hardcore record hounds
across the globe. Recorded in 1977 but not officially released until 1981, the
LP was indeed a national anomaly, as group leader Keith Kanga eschewed
traditional Indian instrumentation for the Westernized drums-bass-guitar
combination following the comedown of Indira Gandhi’s controversial two-year
moratorium of democratic civil rights in the country to fuse together heavy
psych and blaxploitation funk in the form of a fuzzy, freaky set of original
tunes and unique covers of Deep Purple’s “Mary Long,” Jethro Tull’s
“Locomotive Breath” and a medley of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her
Standing There” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”.

 

But
you don’t have to put out a second mortgage on your home to purchase a first
pressing of this world music rarity anymore, as the ever-reliable Stones Throw
reissue subsidiary Now-Again has made Obsession available for mass consumption with a beautifully packaged new collection
produced by label chief Egon. In addition to the album’s initial track list
from the ’77 LP, it is supplemented
with music from Kanga’s equally rare solo work Hit Film Themes, where he and what is assumed to be the same
line-up from Obsession ’77 explore
such soundtrack material as Nino Rota’s “Theme From The Godfather,” the version of Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of
Your Mind” made famous in the original Thomas
Crown Affair
and Hugo Montenegro’s “Theme from The Fox“. Also tacked on at the end is a bootleg-quality live
track that finds Atomic Forest roaring through a seven-minute rendition of Jimi
Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” that will melt your face like a fistful of
curry.

 

The
brilliant Keith Kanga sadly passed away in 2006 after struggling for years with
a crippling drug addiction. But thankfully with the existence of this
outstanding and educational anthology, his legacy as one of India’s true sonic
mavericks will live on for generations to come.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Mary Long,”
“Locomotive Breath,” “Windmills Of Your Mind,” “Foxy Lady” RON HART

 

 

 

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