Infected Mushroom on the menu at Belly Up Aspen
February 2, 2010
ASPEN – When Infected Mushroom conceived its latest recording project, the idea was for a concept album with something of a lighthearted twist. But as the project got fleshed out, heavier matters got into the minds of Amit Duvdevani and Erez Eisen, the two Israeli-born musicians who make up the techno duo, now based in Hollywood. “Over two years,” said the 32-year-old Duvdevani, who goes by the nickname “Duvdev,” “you have serious days and you have fun days. It’s important to get all of that in there. Things shouldn’t always be funny or always be serious. It should be a mix of these things.”
On the new album, those serious moments are reflected in such songs as “Saeed” and “Killing Time.” The former has a message-to-self kind of lyric, with the singer trying to put an end to the fallout of a bad relationship: “I’ve been beating and beating and beating myself/ Without nothing to say to you,” the song concludes. On the latter tune guest singer Perry Farrell, of Jane’s Addiction, opens with the lines, “In my dreams/ I can kill you.”
“Smashing the Opponent,” which features vocalist Jonathan Davis, of Korn, can be read as raising a different sort of serious matter. With lyrics about revenge, strikes and suffering, and considering the nationality of Duvdevani and Eisen, it could be interpreted as an apology offered toward the Palestinian people.
The album, however, didn’t begin with thoughts of murder, politics and love gone sour. It started with hummus, tacos and other comestibles. The album, which was released in September, is called “The Legend of the Black Shawarma.” The title comes from a favorite restaurant in their hometown of Haifa, Shawarma Hazan, where the shawarma – a wrap made of shaved meat, usually lamb – is indeed, according to Duvdevani, legendary.
Get Duvdevani started on the subject of food, and it quickly becomes apparent that eating counts as among life’s serious topics. The original idea for “The Legend of the Black Shawarma” was a collection of songs about their favorite restaurants – “about temples of food we like across the world,” as he puts it. The concept survived in part: The album opens with “Poquito Mas,” named for a funky California taco chain that Duvdevani and Eisen love. “Saeed” – despite lines like “Cut the chain of lies” and “Stop the bleed inside and feel again” – is named for their favorite hummus spot in Israel. The instrumental tune “Franks” was inspired by a taco stand in Tijuana. (Neither serious nor food-oriented is “Herbert the Pervert,” based on a character, an elderly pederast, from “Family Guy.”)
Duvdevani got his start in neither techno nor food, but playing piano – “like every kid whose mother kicks him out of the house to study classical music,” he said from his home in Los Angeles. He then took a place in a heavy metal band, but with his keyboardist background, he found a greater outlet for expression in techno. After listening to Gary Numan, Orbital and Kraftwerk, he changed directions.
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After forming Infected Mushroom in the late ’90s with Eisen, another former piano student, Duvdevani focused on techno. But with “The Legend of the Black Shawarma,” the two dive not only into their love of food, but their fondness for metal. The album crosses sounds from hard rock with electronic methods.
“I liked the beat, the aggressiveness” of techno, Duvdevani said. The new album “delves into heavy metal sound; the industrial groove is constant. That’s what we grew up on, and are getting back to. People like that heavy, aggressive sound.”
For the past five years, Infected Mushroom has toured as a live techno outfit, with Duvdevani singing to a backing of live guitars, drums and keyboards. “It’s a full rock-electronic show, with a lot of distortion, a lot of noise, a lot of things going on. I don’t know if it’s amazing, but it is intense.”
As is the passion for food. Asked to name some of his holiest “temples” of dining, Duvdevani said, “I can go forever.” He added that people have been after him to write a book, and he has been thinking about a way of combining music and meals. “I can write songs about 200 restaurants in Japan, Korea, India,” he said.
Duvdevani doesn’t find his devotion to food so unusual. Israel, he said, is a nation of foodies.
“Israelis can have a whole debate for two days about hummus,” he said. “This is very serious for us.”