After two decades of constant touring and prolific production, it would make sense if the members of Infected Mushroom were starting to show signs of exhaustion. Many long-time fans of the band have pointed to some of their recent work as evidence of them losing their innovative edge. Then again, when has any artist or band ever changed their sound and not had doubters?
With their latest album, Return to the Sauce, they aimed to show their avid worldwide fan base that they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Interestingly, the first track of the album, “Flamingo,” lands square in the mid-tempo range, which is not exactly the “sauce” that listeners might expect. For good reason, the legendary production team of Erez Eisen and Amit “Devdev” Duvdevani decided to use the first two tracks to ease the listener into the maws of psytrance, as coming in right off the bat into intense 140+ bpm can be jarring to many.
Additionally, Infected Mushroom’s best work is about the journey, not simply spewing the loudest, quickest beats possible – though they are certainly capable of doing that. It can be said that the energy of psytrance is something that, in order to be understood and appreciated, must be built up – exactly what the first two tracks accomplish.
The title track, as the name suggests, steps it up a notch, leading the listener into psytrance territory. The staccato bass that has been a staple of Infected Mushroom tracks for decades holds down the fast groove with fervor, which continues on throughout the remaining six tracks.
The album, along with a host of new psytrance songs, offers variances of two tracks from the large Infected Mushroom repertoire: a revamp of their 2000 remix of Xerox’s “Gravity Waves,” and a psytrance version of “Demons of Pain,” a downtempo vocal track from their 2015 album Converting Vegetarians II. Combining the old and the new, these two remixes represent a span of 15 years of history – an eternity in the entertainment industry.
One of the skills that has, and continues to, set Infected Mushroom apart from any other artist or band is their ability to tell a story with each piece of music and keep that story interesting for a very long time. The longest song on the album, “Milosh,” clocks in at almost eleven minutes of play time, although when listening it doesn’t feel long or drawn out.
Similarly, the structure of the last two tracks on Return to the Sauce, “Nutmeg” and “Liquid Smoke,” give a nod to classics such as “Cities of the Future,” “Heavyweight,” and “Deeply Disturbed.” In each of these, Infected Mushroom drives a constant progression that weaves multiple themes, each with its own section of rhythmic and sound design elements that could easily be complete songs on their own.
If anything can be taken away from this album, it’s that Infected Mushroom never strayed too far from psytrance. It was their innovation in the sub-genre that turned them into one of Israel’s best-selling artists of all time. As mentioned above, it is true with any band that’s been around for decades that there will be naysayers at every corner. However, Return to the Sauce is a reminder that Erez and Duvdev mastered the art and science of production long ago. Thus, they can easily bring back the signature sound and style of Infected Mushroom’s “golden days,” andthensome.