In this special feature, The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight takes a look at how Israel is producing some of the world’s most exciting artists, despite the socio-political climate in the country.
It goes without saying that Israel has seen its fair share of problems, historically. Rarely does a day go by when western media isn’t reporting on something from the Middle Eastern country. However, if there is one thing that is capable of bringing people together, it is music, and some may argue that none so much as electronic music.
Safe to say, the electronic music scene in Israel has, like everywhere else, been subjected to highs and lows since it was established in the late eighties. From the stylish streets of Tel Aviv to the coastal town of Eilat, nightclubs began to spring up and, with them, a whole new scene.
Nightspots, such as The Penguin Club in Tel Aviv, swung open their doors to the underground masses and saw the popularity of electronic music rising. From industrial through to EBM and New Wave, electronic music was seeing a surge in popularity. It wasn’t unusual to hear the sounds of Depeche Mode when walking past one of Tel Aviv’s many nightclubs, or even more politically charged music from the likes of Whitehouse, Coil, and SPK.
This continued for some time, with the New Wave transitioning into more dance-based territory, morphing into more house, trance, and techno-based sounds. This is due largely to the ability of Israeli nationals to cross the border into India from 1988, and with that they could head to Goa, the home of the infamous Full Moon parties. This is something that really caught on when Israeli travellers returned from their Indian adventures and soon Israel had a glut of Full Moon parties of its own.
The floodgates were now opened for different styles of electronic music to enter Israel. Psy-trance, which came hand-in-hand with the Full Moon parties was one such genre that saw a surge in popularity but, as mentioned, this was joined by acid, techno and ‘maximaal’, or hard trance.
Israeli Goa trance groups such as Astral Projection started to achieve notoriety, releasing tracks on one of Israel’s largest trance labels, Trust in Trance – a label they ran themselves. Their releases proved popular on the world’s trance stage but, obviously, remained more so in their home country.
Difficulties within the Israeli socio-political climate meant that the clubbing realm saw a drop in the popularity of electronic music in terms of the choice of venues to attend. Alongside this, as in other countries where electronic music was popular, the associations between dance music and drug use were made by the authorities. This led to said authorities clamping down hard on dance music venues and organisers of parties and clubbing events, and pushed the scene underground.
The future of the Israeli electronic music scene hung in the balance. Police crackdowns continued with increasing ferocity and regularity and in 1997, famously, arrested, detained, and deported DJs amidst fears that the Israeli Lucky Dance Festival was a haven for hedonistic drug taking. This intolerance for Israel’s electronic music landscape was met by those who had propagated it, and soon, despite continued run-ins with Israeli police, the club scene began to flourish again. By 1999, the parties that had been so vilified had begun to garner acceptance, and while festivals still remained under close scrutiny, clubs were allowed to continue operating.
Israeli acts like Infected Mushroom and DJ Goblin began to rise to the top of the game. Trance was booming but, sadly, the clubbing scene in Israel started to come under threat once again. Not from the authorities, this time, but from attacks which were attributed to the ongoing hostilities between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This lasted for almost 3/4 of a decade.
However, with the exponential rise in internet culture came an influx of musical styles not fully explored in the country. House, tech-house, and disco have all seen a marked increase in popularity. We now have artists such as Guy J, Lonya, Guy Gerber, Moscoman and Red Axes travelling from Israel, across the planet, and receiving widespread acclaim across the board.
We would like to celebrate the rich, diverse, electronic music culture that Israel is quickly becoming famous for. Below, we have put together a list of some of our favourite music to come out of the Holy Land. Check it out (in no particular order).
Guy J has made a name for himself as one of the world’s most well-recognised, and well respected, progressive DJs. He takes the roots of Israel’s trance and progressive scene and expertly melds them with house and techno, forging a deeply hypnotic sound.
One of the original Israeli trance acts, Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani have been at it now for 21 years, and aren’t showing any signs of letting up. They have, and still do, produce some of the world’s most recognisable trance, psy-trance, and psychedelic electronica.
House duo, Red Axes, started life as a Tel Aviv New Wave band, known as Red Cotton. From here, they developed their sound into one which brings together house, disco, and techno under their new guise. Check out the awesome Konstantin Sibold remix of their track, Sun My Sweet Sun. The band use multiple instruments in their productions, including guitars and synthesizers.
Lonya heads up Tel Aviv’s Asymmetric Records, which releases some furious, fresh techno and house music. Lonya‘s productions are energetic and dynamic, and he truly represents the ‘new breed’ of producers coming out of Israel with his sound.
Last on the list, but by no means least, we have the godfathers of the Israeli trance scene, Astral Projection. Heading up the ubiquitous Trust in Trance imprint, the pair have had one of the most successful careers of all the Israeli trance artists.