Infected Mushroom cultivates its dark atmosphere

Haifa-bred electro-psych-rock phenomenon Infected Mushroom is usually the closely guarded brainchild of DJs Erez Eisen (a.k.a. I.Zen) and Amit Duvdevani (a.k.a. Duvdev) but the duo’s latest project Legend of the Black Shawarma is all about collaboration. After a decade spent thrilling crowds with releases from its groundbreaking and dancefloor-shaking 1999 debut The Gathering through to 2007’s Vicious Delicious the jet-set turntablists have settled in L.A. where they continue to devise the evolution of their celebrated Goa beach-party vibes.

“Usually we are very closed to advice” says Duvdev of Infected Mushroom’s standing policy on recording sessions. “But this time around we were fortunate enough to work with Paul Oakenfold. His experience in giving direction as an executive producer made for a great collaboration. We really respected what each other had to say and he was extremely helpful as were all of the people we brought in on this record.”

Taking their unique Tel-Aviv trance sound to the next level I.Zen and Duvdev have added elements of North American heavy metal and punk rock to create their genre-bending September release Legend of the Black Shawarma. Augmenting the exotic Arabian-Nights-on-mind-altering-substances soundtrack with darker rhythmic elements the pair devised the shocker “Smashing the Opponent” with the aid of Korn’s Jonathan Davis on vocals; meanwhile Perry Farrell stepped to the mic to deliver a chillingly excellent vocal performance on “Killing Time.”

“The whole concept was to bring those raw heavy metal influences into what we do and we were just so lucky that artists of such calibre were able to fit us into their busy schedules” Duvdev says. “Moments like that are so hard to obtain — it’s so amazing to me that Legend came out just as I had imagined it last year when I was listening to all this fantastic hard rock. Every time we make a new album it comes out closer to what we had intended; the transfer from mind to hand is always getting better. Paul’s Perfecto label was absolutely the right choice for this record. Some people say that we’re perfectionists; that’s because we always want the best sound possible.”

Renowned for their innate ability to herd throbbing hoards of revellers with a well-timed flick of the wrist these globe-trotting playboys are more famous for being individual DJs than they are for being a band — a current DJmag poll of the world’s Top 100 DJs lists I.Zen and Duvdev at No. 9 overall. High praise indeed for accomplished violinist Amit and pianist-guitarist Erez who spent the past five years building Infected Mushroom into a full-fledged live music act. American guitarist Tom Cunningham and Brazilian drummer Rogério Jardim add flavour and flare to the group’s expanding multi-ethnic mix. Mixing psychedelic-electronica and classical Middle-Eastern melodies with hypnotic results Infected Mushroom’s live shows explode with vivid bursts of instrumentation all overlaid by Duvdev’s rich and emotive vocals. Hitting the stage about 120 times a year the ensemble has spent 2009 stirring the pot at Coachella the Virgin Festival OMIX Brazil’s Ipanema Beach and Melbourne Australia’s Metro Club not to mention the massive Ultra Music Festival in Miami which attracted some 100000 attendees.

“Our working formula is to first try our studio tracks out on a live audience before we commit to them” Duvdev explains. “Sometimes things you’re convinced will be a surefire hit will fall flat in the clubs. You never know what’s going to excite the people. To tell you the truth I got bored of the whole DJ thing and really backed away from it over the past two years. Now that I’ve had a chance to play my own music I feel like I’m ready to enjoy just DJing again. I love to share both the music I’ve created and the music I’ve discovered. We believe in evolving our tastes in keeping pace with our audience; we’re excited about what the future holds.”