A lot of facts about the movement in Israel
There is one place in the world where Psychedelic trance is more popular then any other type of dance music, where X-Dream have more followers then Oakenfold, Where Mark Allen is more well known then Karl Cox.
Early Flyer “Full Moon Party”
Israeli's are a force to be reckoned with at all major trance events. Israeli producers and DJ's have created a sub style of their own. Groups of Israelis roam around India, the summer festivals in Europe and basically everywhere where trance parties happen.
Well let us take a look at how did this happen, where do all these Israeli's come from and why do they all love Trance.
It all began back in 1988. In Tel Aviv, Israel's cultural centre, several clubs are active, most of them dedicated to new wave and rock, and the most important one of them is called “The Pinguin”. Several people make the “Pinguin” their second home; amongst them are Avi Nisim, Lior Perlamuter, Yaniv Haviv, Har-El Prussky, Itzik Levi, Edi Mis, and Rami Shapira. The “Pinguin” is musically directed towards the fusion between early industrial rock (Einstruze Neubaten), New wave (Depeche mode), Kraftwerk, Psycik TV, Butthole surfers and going in the direction of heavier electronica.
Miko & Harel
A quick jump to India. India was closed for Israeli passport holders until 1988, but the moment it opened up it was swarmed with groups of Israelis that have just got out of their compulsory Military service and were looking for a cheap, and thrill full place to travel to. On the warm beaches of Goa people like Miko, Zoo-B and Guy Sebbag hear the sounds of electronica for the first time. On the traveller circuit, between Goa, Tokyo, Koh pan gann, and Manali those Israelis are introduced to the sound of the beat.
Coming back to Israel, the travellers bring back with them newly acquired traditions. Those include the use of psychedelics, virtually unknown in Israel until the early 90's. The full moon gatherings begin in 1990. The basics are set.
Meanwhile back at the “Pinguin” club DJ Avi Nisim is checking out new sounds together with his friend Lior Perlamuter, They call themselves SFX, soon they will be known as Astral Projection.
The new music travels to Israel mostly by cassettes, dance records are rare. The first shop to bring dance records regularly to Israel is Israel “Gingi” Fichman's store in a suburb of Tel Aviv called Bat Yam. Gingi has seen the commercial value of the kids that were hanging out in his store, and proposes a deal. To release a CD of their music. The kids thought that he was laughing at them but “Gingi” was serious and finally in 1992 Trance mix vol. 1 comes out. “Gingi” calls his label “Melodia music”.
The first CD contained mostly licences of tracks that were dance hits at the time like Ramirez, Jam and Spoon and E-Rection but it also contains the first Israeli trance track. Composed and produced by Erez Jino (today half of “Analog Pussy”) under the name of “Art Indust”. In 93 the third CD in the series already contains only Israeli tracks produced by Har-El Prussky, Yaniv Haviv and Edi Mis.
But lets go back to the party scene.
The first parties in 1990 were labelled as full moon gatherings, the music there was a mix between early acid, Chicago house, Detroit techno and Frankfurt trance, and were a very underground thing. Not more then 100 people would come to those parties that are held on the beaches, in the forests and in the desert. Isri Halperin, a movie director, tells the story of that summer. “During the summer (of 1990) we had several of those parties, with not more then 100 people showing up to each party. The police didn't show up yet. We all had a feeling that once people outside find out about this it will all be ruined. The mix of people at those parties was quite special. Those that came back from the east, those that came out of the “Pinguin” club, some “Arsim(2*)”. We all had a feeling that something special was happening, that this is the future.
One of the turning points was when a story came out in the local newspaper “Tel Aviv” with the headline “Chemicals in Nizanim” (a popular party location on the southern beaches). This was what opened it up. Afterwards there were much more parties but also more police”.
The Argues Eye
In the winter of 1992-3 the parties' move into a club in Tel Aviv called “Ha-baaya” - the Problem. The two most popular “Trance” DJ's in Israel are hired to play these are Guy Sebbag and Avi Nisim. The parties that were held at the baaya were described by the Hebrew word for chaos, “Balagan”. The moving of the parties into a closed club starts the change of mood from the Neo hippie tribal full moon gatherings to full on hedonism. The music is a mix between the Italian ecstasy star Ramirez, German Avant-garde Techno (Der Familie – Der Klange), Early club trance (age of love) minimal Acid techno (Plasticman) Hardfloor, and the local heroes SFX.
The baaya closes a couple of weeks after the new year of 1993 and the first party after is organised in a club in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, the club is called the Impulse.
The Police have also heard about the Impulse party. And decides that it's time to stop the hedonism.
Until 1992 the police had no idea about the parties. Some of the veterans tell a story about policemen coming to one of the early parties, having a look around, then exchanging bewildered looks and leaving the place. All that freedom is about to stop.
The raid at the Impulse club was quite brutal. People are searched thoroughly including a full anal search, handcuffs are used and arrests are made, amongst the arrested are the DJ team Avi Nisim and Guy Sebbag. The charge against them is responsibility to the presence of drugs at the party. Trance music is proclaimed as causing drug use, and the police treat the couple roughly.
Avi Nisim remembers “the police threw us into Abu Cabir prison together with rapists, murderers and robbers. We were being accused of being drug dealers and children killers I am Diabetic and kept on asking from the policemen to give me insulin or send me to the infirmary, but they only gave it to me when I fainted from sugar depletion”. This is the beginning of the war on trance that the Israeli police have proclaimed.
Things went back to the underground for a few years. Small parties keep going on, with the police closing some of them, DJ's harassed. But more and more Israelis go to Goa every year.
Back in the home studio the scene keeps on developing. SFX join forces with Yaniv Haviv and rename themselves as Astral Projection.
95 sees the first Artist album to be released in Israel the artists are Indoor. Produced by Avi Algranati, Ofer Dikovski and Marko Goren and released by NMC, a company that didn't do electronica before, it is considered as a landmark CD in the development of the Israeli sound. 1996 Rami Shapira Calls himself Chakra and together with Edi Mis releases The Promised Land CD on new label Krembo. The CD features a super hit track, X-Files. Renamed locally as the monkey track.
Krembo is formed as a partnership between local DJ Team Zoo-B and Tal and The Ronael Brothers who were running Musica Plus, a high-end weddings and events company. The local music companies understand that there is money to be made in electronica and open their shop for business. Another CD released in 96 was California Sunshine. Released by Phonokol, a company that understood the potential of trance in 1994 when they signed a partnership with Astral Projection's label Trust In Trance. Famous Israeli travelling DJ Miko and studio man Har-El Prussky produce California Sunshine. Some Israeli's even make it on labels in Europe. Power source (Shahaf Shwarzman, Nati Mishali and Nati Beat) have worked with TIP under the Global T.I.P. Name and Har-El Prussky and Edi Mis release (separately) on Nephilim rec. European labels such as Transient, TIP, and Symbiosis reprinted most Israeli released CD's. Astral Projection are the sound of Israeli trance at this point, big melodic carpets over a kick, pure emotions with no aggression. Astral remain faithful to their formula as a duo when Yaniv Haviv decides to leave them and goes into religion. (Quite a lot of trancers have “seen the light” usually following powerful LSD experiences and have gone into heavy Orthodox Judaism.) They remain faithful to their formula until today.
The High Times. “Karachana” (ManMadeMan, After playing at the Huga “Drugless” Festival).
It is 1997. The Israeli Authorities are certain that Trance is the Mother and Father of all evils, and especially of drug use. Parties are shut regularly, Big headlines in the papersstating about “Our best youth wasting it selves on the beaches of Goa and in the forests of Israel. The scene has grown from small parties on the beach to bigger and bigger gatherings, with more Israelis catching the sound both in Israel and Abroad.
Asher Haviv, a local promoter, decides to throw a big event. He recruits DJ Miko, and Miko's brother Eli, to build the lineup, finds the perfect location and sets up on a journey throughout Israel to promote his event. In order to get the approval of the authorities the festival is called “Drugless” and receives sponsorship from “AlSam” Israel's Anti drug trust.
It is June 1997 and The biggest names in world trance have arrived at the Beit Shean valley, near the border with Jordan. Over 15,000 people, mostly Israeli's, arrive as well. Their mission: to dance to the tunes that come from local artist such as California Sunshine, DJ Zoo-B, MFG, and foreign DJ's and live acts such as Tsuyoshi, X-Dream, Shakta, Deedrah, ManMadeMan, Youth and Juan. Temperatures at the festival during the day reach towards 40 degrees, but the people don't care. For 3 days the music doesn't stop. (Although during the day, the trance is substituted for Ethnic chill out performances). When the police finally understand what was happening there it is too late. The festival is already at its end.
On the next day big headlines appeared in Israel's newspapers. “The Biggest drug party in the history of the country” accompanied by full size color photos. The newspaper forgot to mention that during the entire festival there was not a single case of violence, no crime, and only 20 people were arrested for possession of marijuana.
The next event, in the September 97, was organized by the Beer Sheva club “The Forum” and was held on the beach in Nizanim. (The same place where small underground parties were started back in 1990). This was already a big commercial event. With Lucky Strike cigarettes sponsoring it. Therefore it is called “Lucky Dance”. Faithless head the first night of this 2-night event and California Sunshine headline the Second. This time the Police realize what is happening at 9 o'clock on the morning of the second day. DJ Miko and Har-El Prussky are told to stop their act over 30,000 people applaud to the musicians, and boo the police.
But the music has stopped. Together with the music came to a stop any chance of organising an event that is a little bigger then a usual party.
While in Tel Aviv a big club scene of house music is developing very fast, trance is being driven more and more to the underground. But record sales are still rising. DJ Eyal Yankovic Meir Cohen and Moshe Keinan AKA Xerox found Hom-Mega. Dedicated to the development of the Israeli sound of trance they have since released numerous albums and compilations of original Israeli 2nd generation Trancers such as Xerox, Maskalin, Children of the doc (DJ Goblin) Infected mushroom, and more. Coming from southern resort city Eilat, DJ Dede joins forces with MDMA, until then a small heavy metal distribution company; to begin the first Israeli trance dedicated distribution. Krembo go on Releasing original CD's from Enertropia, A newcomer from the southern city of Beer Sheva, and some compilations. Compilations are being released by TIT-Phonokol as well. And the kids start asking for synthesizers instead of guitars.
Sun & Fun
The Huga legend “This country loads you up so much, that it's inhuman. And what are we asking for? That they allow us to break loose once a week. We run all the time, so once a week we take a time out, and with the same rationality we get in a car and go to listen to music that we really love. The police must understand. This love is bigger then us. We keep on crying that it is better abroad, but there is no reason for it not to be better here. There is not a place in the world where trance is being threatened. Only the state of Israel with it's old time mentality” (Asher Haviv gives his point of view to a daily newspaper)
By the summer of 1998 the police was regularly raiding parties everywhere, no permits for any sort of parties were given and DJ's were targeted by the police as public enemies. Foreign DJ's that came to Israel are hassled at the airport. Johan Bley and Ben Watkins from Juno reactor both remember what it was coming to Israel in 1997. “We were taken right after the passport check to this separate room” remembers Johan “ and strip searched, the police has found nothing, but has still held us for the night and we were deported in the morning”.
A last effort to change the police policy is done in July 1998. After appealing to the supreme court in attempt to change the decision of the police not to allow Drugless festival 2 Asher Haviv gets an idea, while demonstrating in front of the supreme court in Jerusalem he is inspired. He calls for a big Trance demonstration.
It is Thursday, the 9th of July. The technical crews have started working at the morning, a huge sound system is erected at the middle of Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, and decorations are put. Supported by All the major Israeli record companies: Krembo, MDMA, NMC, Hed Artzi Phonokol, Hom-Mega, BNE and every single promoter in the country. The finances were provided by some of the bigger clubs in Israel (Haoman 17 in Jerusalem and the Forum in Beer Sheva mostly). In charge of all the production is a team that includes some of the biggest Trance party Organisers/ Promoters: Asher Haviv himself, Ilan Faktor and Dan Komem. At five o'clock in the afternoon all is ready and the sign is given. The massive sound system begins to pulsate. By 7 o'clock at night the square is rocking with over 30,000 people laying down the freedom boogie to classical Israeli artists such as Indoor – Avi “Space Cat” Algranati and Ofer “Oforia” Dikovski, Chakra and Edi Mis, Xerox and Freeman, Astral Projection, MFG Sandman and of course California Sunshine. At eleven o'clock in full compliance with the licence received from the police the music was closed and everybody went home quietly. For a second it looks as if the trance has won.
But it was but an illusion. The media ignored the demonstration almost completely and the police policy hasn't changed. Trance parties were still being considered as major targets.
Even Higher “Good Morning Israel” (Nizchonot(4*) grandmaster Eyal Barkan looks down from the top of the charts after selling over 40,000 CD's)
The parties in Israel are no longer safe, so people coming to a party want to party as fast and as hard a possible, after all you can never know how much time you have left until the party will be shut down. This leads to the development of the “Nizchonot“ genre. Fast (150 bpm minimum) and very strong. The Israelis had no time for long set building. The party could be closed soon. They want it all condensed into a single track. The Shiva Shidapu project, Erez Eizen a sixteen-year-old whiz and “Shiva” Jorg Kessler, veteran-travelling DJ, were pioneering this music; other soon became interested in developing this direction. Eyal Barkan and Holly “Hollyman” Schwarz release a CD under the name Over the Sunrise. In the summer of 98 Eyal Barkan releases his first Solo Project, Good morning Israel. The CD is a hit, selling better then mineral water at a party. The simple melodic lines, hard and fast kicks and tremendous breakdowns with samples of kiddie TV shows (one track went as far as being composed only of samples from the kiddies cartoon show Smurfs (dubbed in Hebrew) with a kick.) and super long ups contain the essence of the Israeli stress relive feeling. Tracks with nicknames like the fox track, the kisses track and Tarzan appear. Ecstasy is this music's choice drug. It is simple enough to appeal to young kids as well as older people searching for uplifting material. None of the intricacy of LSD. The older generation stay away from this sort of stuff. It is much too simple for the staunch psychedelia lovers. A split in the Scene is imminent. The Goa veterans start avoiding parties, they can't stand the melodies and the cheesiness. Parties become places to be avoided. Ruled by groups of Arsim, who control the drug sales. And demand from the DJ's (with violence if necessary) to play their music. Infested by police both undercover and in uniform. The Psychedelic trance went back to the underground. But people were still producing. BNE, another local record company to jump on the train signs up Infected mushroom and Avi “Space Cat” Algranati. Foreign labels also started showing interest in Israeli productions. Dragonfly have signed Ofer Dikovski, Indoor pioneer, for his Oforia project, and Matsuri Picked up Itzik Levy with his Industrial Sandman project. Krembo release Acid Trooper, an album by P.Cok. Infected Mushroom are formed by Erez Eizen (of Shidapu fame) and DJ DuvDev, together they manage to capture the essence of the melodies of Israel and infuse it with the intricacy of the Psychedelia they are the rulers of mornings in the summer of 98 (if those happen).
Holly Shwarz (Hollyman) in an interview to Isratrance. “If Zoo-B tells me: This is an amazing track, I never heard anything like that, amazing sounds, what a progression. Then it's over- I have to get back in the studio and edit everything from the start. That's how it works. There are more people that are my reverse indication- if they say: turn it off, I can't hear that. I know I'm in the top league. Again, I rather not get applause from some of these DJs, which I appreciate, but differ from them with my musical style.”
The police meanwhile are looking aside from the house clubs; Israel has never developed a big techno scene, maybe because of the Israeli need for melody and release from tensions through music, maybe because of the huge amount of Israelis going to Goa bringing back the knowledge of Goa Trance. But the house clubs were growing steadily, and their musical line is now on a collision course with the “Nizchonot”. The clubs start to lean heavily toward the Dutch-German “Club Trance” and by winter 98-99 the ecstasy lovers start moving into the clubs. The Nizchonot promoters couldn't really afford as fancy club events as flash commercial clubs. And the Nizchonot promoters are only interested in making a quick buck from the parties. The Nizchonot lovers have evolved musically as well, they demand more, both music wise and party production wise. By the end of 99 the CD market and parties will be free of them. Infected Mushroom, GMS, the 3D-Vision crew and Skazi will take their place. Today Eyal Barkan (Together with his brother Oren Barkan) still releases music, but has lost his huge popularity. His follower and one time collaborator Yahel is doing very well in the club trance scene. Releasing tracks on Dutch labels such as “Black Hole” But let us return to Psy-Trance.
Low Below I'm going deeper underground, there's too much panic in this town (Jamiriquai explains what has happened to Psy trance in Israel)
It is the spring of 99. There are no big trance parties; occasional exceptions are people that do trance parties in clubs with very strict regulations. Amongst the promoters that still manage to produce parties are OmaComa. With a strict door policy, body searches at the entry and highly organized infrastructure OmaComa manage to keep producing trance parties of medium size (but in legit locations only, no open air's in the forest). Some small hush hush parties still happen but they are for the true undergroundlovers. But people start looking for alternatives. With the Internet being highly used, and Europe being not to expensive to go to people start making plans for a summer “psychedelic holiday” and the promise of this summer is big, the Solipse festival is happening quite near, only 2 hours flight from Tel Aviv and Hungary is a cheap country to travel to. Package deals to the festival go for as low as 500$ with a flight and an entry ticket. Here the Israelis discover what was happening in Europe while we were exploring Nizchonot. The minimal psychedelia is virtually new to Israel. Over 2500 people are exposed to a week of LSD and mostly heavy psychedelic music. Upon return to Israel we find that the police while still not being friendly doesn't really cares anymore about the smaller parties. The low quantity of drugs being found there doesn't justify the effort. So the trance returns to pretty much close from where it began. Deep in the forests or the desserts.
Outdoor - Fun
But in the studio the work never stops. Infected Mushroom release their first album in early 99. It is a hit selling over 10,000 copies. Infected are the best description of the Israeli sound at this point. Melodic, yet aggressive, fast but with lots of emotions and yet not cheesy. Infected Mushroom will keep on developing their formula in their second album released in early 2000. As with Astral Projection, Infected Mushroom remain faithful to their formula today, on the verge of their third album (to be released in early may). Other Israelis do pretty much the same, DJ Goblin (as PsySex or Children Of The Doc), Oforia and Space Cat, each with an album, various compilations from Hom-mega, and the Xerox freestyle CD.
By Mid 1999 clubbing is starting to become very fashionable, and popular opinion is starting to change. Parties are no longer perceived as a threat, as long as they take place in organized locations with strict supervision. Festivals are still not allowed but the scene is starting to recuperate from its dark days. Club culture journalism begins to emerge as NewZeek magazine is established, soon to be followed by various different publications ranging from the high-grade monthly supplement to Tel Aviv local weekly Hair (DJ Hair) and all the way to small brochures dedicated to photographs from the commercial clubs. The Internet is also on a rise. With www.isratrance.com gaining more and more popularity, and being followed by trance.co.il, and other sites. By 2000 everything stabilizes, The clubs grow to be more and more commercialized, but they occasionally start to host trance parties due to the high appeal that Psy Trance has with crowds. The small parties have now more hope of going undisturbed, and the progressive sound is starting to seep into the scene. MDMA have done a tremendous work of importing even the most obscure titles to Israel. In the studios, a new generation of Israeli trancers emerge, some loyal to the Israeli psychedelia (such as Skazi) and some on the newer technoish progressive tip (Optimus records). More party organizers start to do events the police are still active although not as much as before. The future looks quite pink.