French pseudo-beatnik Dashiell Hedayat persuaded the psychedelic, prog-rocking Gong to back him up on Obsolete, his second (and final) album project. This is the Continental Circus-era Gong, and the song structures here resemble that album's stripped-down sound. Propelled by Allen's spacy guitar and Malherbe's spicy sax, the tunes on Obsolete, though at times experimental, aren't as involving or full-blown as those on Gong's Camembert Electrique, recorded on the heels of Hedayat's album. Hedayat sings, or rather talks, in French on each piece. He wrote/composed all the "songs" in the autumn of 1969; the compositions were then recorded in May 1971. One of the most interesting and fleshed-out cuts is "Long Song for Zelda." Introductory acoustic guitar (courtesy of Tritsch) leads to actual singing from Hedayat before he breaks into his standard monologue. Allen conjures up mild guitar atmospherics which lend a lazy Traffic-like quality to the music, and William S. Burroughs brings the piece to a close with an obscure 12-second quote.
The group seem to be at recess on "Fille de L'ombre." Hedayat recites the title phrase repeatedly over a backdrop of musical "free play" featuring Gilli's "intergalactic whispers." The album ends with the lengthy "Cielo Drive/17," as close to a Gong song as it gets on a non-Gong album. More French babble from Hedayat, an excerpt of a baby singing, prominent flute and sax from Malherbe, and ample electric ambience from Allen are the order of the day in this mainly guitar-driven recording. The performance gets a bit loose in the middle, with some awkward time changes and unfocused (or confused) direction, and the composition is padded with a few long stretches of "interstellar matter," but the band somehow manages to make it all sound rather...cool. ~ David Ross Smith