Atomic Forest were the only psychedelic/hard rock band from India to release an album - by which time all bar one of the original members had departed. Vocalist ‘Madooo’ - Madhukar Chandra Dhas - talks to Oregano Rathbone about granny amps, crucifixion blood and rehearsing in a brothel
Nothing excites the crate-digging fraternity more than exhuming an obscure, long-buried source of the good groove – preferably with a pulse-quickening air of mystery attached. The 70s-80s ensemble Atomic Forest, progenitors of the only psychedelic/hard rock album to have emerged from India, tick the requisite boxes. Their central presence on Bully Records’ 2008 psych-funk grab-bag Obsession – its title and cover image derived from Atomic Forest’s legendary Obsession ’77 album – further stimulated a feeding frenzy that sees collectors haemorrhaging in excess of $1,000 for original copies of the artefact in question.
This year sees the release of another Obsession, the Now-Again label’s anthology of Atomic Forest’s most compelling and contradictory cuts. But who were the band, and how did they ironically come to be performing US and UK-influenced psych-rock in India – the very cradle of sinuous psychedelic tonalities? Furthermore, what explains the warring imperatives in their repertoire; from molten Hendrix covers to apologetic film themes… and Una Paloma sodding Blanca?
The trail begins in Jony Castle, a mansion on Mumbai’s Wodehouse Road occupied by Atomic Forest’s bassist/founder Keith Kanga and his maternal grandmother and legal guardian, …
by Oregano Rathbone
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