Review Summary: With Converting Vegetarians, Infected Mushroom gives us a two-disc album covering many different facets of the electronica genre; an entire album of psychadelic trance, and another containing various styles.
Warning: Sobriety is highly frowned upon beyond this point.
If you haven't heard Infected Mushroom before reading this, chances are you may already assume that they're an trance group by the previous statement. If not, well now you do anyways. If you think you have never heard of trance, you're probably fooling yourself. Techno, which is all too often the misnomer branded to all music that sounds computer generated, is a term that encapsulates most of trance, oftentimes including Infected Mushroom in that jumble. By definition, trance is built around repetitive dance beats(more often than not featuring the typical 'dunt tss' syncopation of the kick drum and hi-hat), many layered synth-melodies. Structurally, trance artists try to achieve a crescendo-style effect, building and releasing intensity and tension several times throughout a song. This synthetic flow created by the music is why the genre was given the name trance as it was said to put listeners in a trance-like state.
Sometimes I feel they confuse this trance-like state with the more common mood of boredom. This much is true for the first disc, or the Trance Side, of Converting Vegetarians. An hour and sixteen minutes of the ever-monotonous ebb and flow of computer-generation synthesizers and drum beats is fun for a few songs, (fun forever if you follow my precursory warning) but after a while, every song on this album tends to meld into the last. Sure, Erez Aizen and Amit Duvdevani, the masterminds behind Infected Mushroom, do push their synthesizers to the utmost of comprehendable sonic tweakage, but even that is only impressive for so long. The distorted tones are often too similar to differentiate from one another, leaving the listener sadly lost in too thin a soundscape to be worthy of much acclaim. Granted, the layers of the harmonies do continue to build and build, Few songs stand out from the ten tracks on disc one. Scorpion Frog is my personal favorite, with a nice string orchestra intro to add a bit of an eclectic touch and a nice break from the redundant synth tones, but eventually, the song ends up in the same place as the rest.
I give The Trance Side a 2.5, slightly sub par of what can be done within the psy-trance genre.
The Other Side, however, blows The Trance Side out of the water. From the second the introductory title track comes in, the listener is hooked by the sonic mutations achieved in the first motif of the disc. It is obvious that Infected Mushroom takes a turn in style when the beat enters. Instead of a typical dance beat, we are introduced to a breakbeat already a lot more stimulating than most of the beats featured on The Trance Side.
Another obvious change is the addition of vocals. As they often do, they add a whole lot of variety to the music. The tracks on disc 2 are still saturated with synthesizer melodies, but with the newly acquired sound implementing a much broader selection of instruments, the synths hold a much more textural presence rather than trance-inducing. One of my favorite moments on the disc occur in the title track where we hear the vocalist's voice transformed into a sampled and programmed beat box. Something I have never heard before to say the least.
Opening up the second track Elation Station is another noticeable change in music: The major key. Thus far, over an hour and twenty minutes into the album, we've only heard dark-sounding movements, making Elation Station quite a relief for the listener. While this mood swing only lasts for this song, Drop Out introduces us to another style altogether. Slightly more downtempo and less involving than what we've heard thus far, we enter into a more trip-hop style. Granted, it is still distant from the trip hop gods of Portishead and Massive Attack, it is definitely a slight nod to the genre pioneered by these bands. The song also features an acoustic guitar passage which adds to the ever-growing eclectricness of The Other Side. After what is probably my favorite sythesizer melody on the entire 2+ hour album, we are treated to more guitar, only this time it is a tasteful distorted guitar solo. The sixth track Blink features more trip hop stylings featuring Michelle Adamson, the vocalist famous within the trance culture. She has also sang with such acts as Shpongle (Tales of the Inexpressible), Astrix, Ott, Younger Brother, and not to forget her solo effort in Fallen Angel (2005).
Another one of my favorite tracks off The Other Side is Pletzurra. Another song leaning to the downtempo end of the spectrum features a jazzy piano phrase with eventually crescendos into an eerie and haunting choral progression that yields images of a Tibetan monk. Out of nowhere enters a blinding emulated banjo melody followed by a calm outro. one of the most progressive electronic songs I've ever heard.
One thing that IM producers must have really spent a lot of time messing with was the vocals on each of the songs. I Wish, one of the shorter and weaker songs on the album, contains tons of purposefully de-tuned vocals with tons of effects. This is commonplace throughout the vocals of the disc.
The second disc of Converting Vegetarians is one of my favorite electronic disc of all time. So much variety rooted in such good music prooves to me that while psytrance may not appear to be a genre prided in musicianship, the producers can nonetheless put out a disc that will appeal to fans of such things as musicianship and forward-thinking music in general.
The Other Side recieves a 4.5
Overall, I give the album an equally weighted 3.5. While I typically only throw disc 2 on for a spin, disc 1 is nonetheless a part of the package which greatly detracts my whole opinion of Converting Vegetarians.
Infected Mushroom is:
# Erez Aizen - Lyrics, Producer, Mixing, Mastering, Guitars
# Amit Duvdevani - Lyrics, Producer, Mixing, Mastering
Converting Vegetarians guests are:
# Michele Adamson - Vocals, Lyrics
# Dan Lavi - Guitars
# Berry Sakharof - Additional guitars
# Eyal Yankovich - Post Production
# Limor Mazor - Promotion
# Dan Lev - Photos
# Mira Alon - Makeup
# Tomeriko - Live Photo
# Doron Edut/DandD Studio - Sleeve Design
# May Printshop - Printing