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Infected Mushroom ‎– Converting Vegetarians II


Magus Knight
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Tracklist:

She Zoremet 5:14

Yamakas In Space 7:33

Sense Of Direction 3:25

Animatronica 6:15

Feelings 4:10

Pink Froid 7:40

Demons Of Pain 2:58

Zoan Zound 4:31

Blue Swan 58:58

Fields Of Grey 4:18

Leopold 4:14

On The Road Again 3:59

Stuck In A Loop 4:23

Mexicali 3:45

The Surgeon 6:21

 

Converting Vegetarians II is a sequel to the band's 2003 album Converting Vegetarians. That was considered a very groundbreaking album, at the time. And also quite divisive, which has become a bit of a hallmark of their music and its relationship with the Psytrance crowd. In retrospect if I had to pin-point one thing about the music of IM that sums it up with one word. it would be the WTF-factor. And this factor has been a huge part of their success I believe, because it creates an impression. It will not leave the listener un-affected in some way. You'll probably love it or hate it, and that I think is an important trait with any good music, it has to touch a nerve. Be it some catchy melody which you'll be hearing in your head for years after, despite thinking the melody is silly. Or be it some type of weird sound effects which you'll never heard before. Some kind of defining quality with a lasting appeal. These type of qualities are more common in the popular music domain. I still think they apply to some of the more memorable Psy and Goa as well. Now with IM, since they're are pretty much in the popular music and EDM domains lately, there will of course be a much stronger emphasis on such things.

The first Converting Vegetarians album introduced the now staple ingredient of a singing Duvdev. It wasn’t entirely his debut as a singer in Infected Mushrooms music though. Since he did some chanting on the Classical Mushroom album. And also on the track Into The Matrix which was featured on IsrAliens 2: Bizarro in the year 2000. It wasn’t released as an Infected Mushroom track per se, instead they opted to call that project: I.Zen Feat. Duvdev. For reasons unknown to me. He also did this type of chanting/humming on the track Symphonatic released back in 2000 as well. And if we rewind back the CD to 1999, and their debut album The Gathering. There was what I belive is Duvdev’s voice heavily mangled on the track Return of The Shadows. The singing on the first Converting Vegetarians album however, was the first time Duvdev sang some actual lyrics based music in the Infected Mushroom project.

Not with that introduction out of the way. Let’s start with the creepy artwork, which is amazingly detailed and well executed. It oozes of high-strangeness, and sets the listener up for the high degree of WTF that awaits them. It reminds me of the Metroid videogame series, which had the iconic mother brain as a final boss. This brain on the album cover somehow got hooked up on a meat hook. And it’s growing what looks like some Psilocybe Mexicana, or another variety of psilocybin mushrooms on it. Right so it harkens back to the artwork of the first Converting Vegetarians album. What the backstory for the artwork is I don’t know, but I would assume that it has something to do with converting/infecting the listener into the hallucinogenic mushroom music on offer. Great start I think, set’s the mood for some twisted trippy musical adventure.

This album was a hightlight and pleasant surprise for me back in 2015. Since it marked a slight return to the earlier experimental sound of IM. While still sounding like something new and fresh, it also marked a departure from the sound of IM around the time. Which was had taken some detours into EDM-Land, as well as having been a rock band constellation. However luckely for me, they seem to get bored quickly. So after these attempts at beeing Swedish House Maffia or Tool. They opted to back to some more familiar territory. It has some cheese as well for sure, She Zoremet in particular. Sense of Direction on the other hand I think is a really catchy Electro-Pop/Psy cross-over. It reminds me a bit of the I Wish track. It feels less non-sensical in comparison to She Zoremet. Yamakas In Space is a rather cool track, it reminds me a bit of Dancing With Kadaffi. It's a pleasant return to the downtempo experimental melodical psychedelia  of their B.P. Empire and Converting Vegetarians era. In fact this album might considered a collection of tracks in the Dancing With Kadaffi style. If one takes the only the better of the instrumental tracks. Since Animatronica also continues in that legacy, it feels a lot like the Kadaffi track stylewise. And also reminds me of the tracks Institute of Science and Into The Matrix. Animatronica is a great track as well, very nostalgic and catchy. This album at times reminds me of the artist Koan, or maybe it's the other way around? Either way IM has expressed their appreciation for Koan in interviews. So the inspiration seems to be there in some capacity. The Surgeon is an epic track, which is similar to their track older track Heavyweight. It has some heavy metal influences mixed, with something that at times sound like elevator music with a twist.(I don't mean this in a bad way). It's as if they would have taken some rather dull elevator music and made it awesome. Some of the tracks on this album have a slight fantasy vibe too them, not as much as the Dark Fantasy vibes found on the Classical Mushroom album, but still noticeable. And at times some of the tracks on this album sound a bit like, how radio music can sound when on acid or shrooms. It's that weird mix of genres, which are then sprinkled with some psychedelia. A cool blend on the good tracks on the album where it works. Most of the tracks on this album have a guitar in there somewere, similar to the style of the track Drop Out from CV-1. Which to me sounded like a Björk or perhaps a bit Röyksopp inspired track, whom IM hopefully do a collab with some day. Infected Röyksopp, make it happen.

I think the guitar component on this album is inspired in part by Dream Theater, and also to a large degree by the psychedelic pioneers of yesteryear. Such as The Doors and and Pink Floyd, which is hinted at in the track name Pink Froyd. The collaboration that IM did with The Doors, must've made a definitive impact on IM. And some tracks here indeed remind me of that collaboration. Which was a very good collab, People Are Strange and Riders On The Storm captured something very unique by combining genres of different eras. The future colliding with the past, which would be an apt description of how this album sounds at times.

Fields of Grey, featuring porn actress Sacha Grey is the track which sounds the most like I Wish from the first Converting Vegetarians album, besides Sense of Direction which is also in the same ballpark minus the glitchiness. Fields of Grey has the same signature IM vocal glitch effect which they introduced on I Wish. Rather nice track but probably on the cheesier side for most people, I like it anyways. It's very good production-wise as the mixing on this track shines and the sound design is interesting. It's probably one of the more scaled back tracks on the album, a characteric which it shares with it's older sibling track I Wish. Synth-Pop with a shroomy flavor I guess would sum up what it is. This track has some touch points as well, with the collab track IM did with Michelle Adamson on the track Blink on CV-1. Since it's a duet between Duvdev and Sacha Grey, and this makes me think about what a potential duet between Duvdev and Lady Gaga would've sounded like. Since this is the type of track that would've been interesting hearing in a collab between Infected Mushroom and Lady Gaga. I think her piano playing and singing combined with the vocal manipulation wizardry of IM, could result in something much more intriguiging, than the rather bland track Aura they did together. 

Leopold is a great track, it reminds me of Elation Station from Converting Vegetarians 1. It has an 80's feel to it which is accentuated by the use of some classic electronic 80's drum sounds for fills. On The Road Again sounds like something of a mix between the euphoric ending of Dancing With Kadaffi, combined with the weirdness of the track Shakawkaw from CV-1. Not a bad track, maybe on the shorter side.

To me this album feels extremely inspired, as if they had missed doing something like this. It has that same type of playfulness which often characterize music-making of younger people, at musical schools who have just discovered different genres, and experiment by combining them. I hope they make more albums in this experimental downtempo style, and I wonder how this type of psychedelic music could sound/work if adapted for movie soundtracks. This music to me is perfect for creativity while playing around in Photoshop, or drawing something. It's very relaxing, but still manages to never bore you. It's colorful music, with lot's of interesting sound effect details intervoween with plenty of memorable melodies. All presented in an eclectic mix of instruments and styles. I remember reading an interview with Erez, in which he said that he liked Shpongle and Celtic Cross a lot at the time, around 1999/2000. And that influence can definitely be heard here as well. 

 

 

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