Nino Nardini / Roger Roger

Jungle Obsession

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This piece of musical exotica is truly a classic of the genre. It was written, produced, and conducted by two bright, underappreciated French composers (Nardini is of Italian descent but was born in Paris) whose only idea for collaboration was a commission by a society of sound professionals for something unified and "exotic." What could be more exotic than the jungle itself? This pair set out to create a work for a sound library recording (not to be sold commercially) that evoked the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the jungle. Released in 1971, the disc quickly entered the dead-dog files of cultural miscegenation and has remained there ever since. Forget Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and Dick Hyman too for a moment. Certainly those men were all into this before, and no doubt influenced Jungle Obsession's composers. But whereas the music and arrangements of Denny and Baxter all derived from simple themes -- easily recognized by Western audiences as a way in -- these two cats threw all that out the window and created a series of motifs, leitmotifs, and modes that were out of the musical sphere at the time. They took rock and classical and bossa and jazz and easy listening, wove them together with polyrhythmic invention and a boatload of sound effects, and created one of the true masterpieces of pop exotica: musically sophisticated, sensually lush, and technically innovative. There is no record quite like this one, and any fan of so-called lounge music or exotica should own this. For those fans of hep sounds and po-mo kitsch, you should have it too, but for those interested in the finest sounds the '70s had to offer, this is a necessity.

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