What better way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence than with a performance by one of the country’s most popular trance techno acts, Infected Mushroom? That’s exactly what the UCSB chapter of American Students for Israel (ASI) drummed up for its celebration last Wednesday, on the eve of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s own independence day. The fact that ASI was able to book them was no small feat, as UCSB is a bit off the beaten path of the rest of Infected Mushroom’s tour schedule. The show sold out in only two days, and the internationally acclaimed act rocked UCSB’s Hub for the several hundred people lucky enough to score tickets.
Infected Mushroom, hailing from Haifa, Israel, was formed in 1998 by Erez Aizen and Amit Duvdevani. They play an eclectic brand of psychedelic trance techno, combining cues from European-style electronica with powerful guitar riffs. One of their songs includes synthesized Middle Eastern stringed instruments, and their guitar work is distinctly drawn from 1980s glam rock. It’s a sound that can only be described as frantically blissful-what one might expect from musicians who come from an essentially European country firmly ensconced in the Middle Eastern end of the Mediterranean rim. Tightly packed in the Israeli-flag draped hall, wild-eyed, glow stick-bearing students danced fluidly about one another, responding to Duvdevani’s enthusiastic vocals.
The members of Infected Mushroom claim a diverse array of influences. Learning to play the organ at the age of four, Aizen-whose DJ moniker is I.Zen-began studying piano at the Haifa Conservatory when he was only eight years old. It wasn’t long before he discovered electronic music and began collaborating with other deejays. By the time he was 18, Aizen had released his first album. Duvdevani-who goes by Duvdev, a nickname he picked up while serving in the Israeli Defense Force-was also trained in piano, playing in a punk band before discovering trance music. Guitarists Tom Cunningham and Erez Netz joined the duo in 2004, and in 2007 they added percussionist Rogerio Jardim. DJmag‘s Top 100 DJs Poll listed Infected Mushroom as number nine in 2007.