Words by: Kevin
Schwartzbach | Photos by Elad Segev
Indigo Festival :: 05.20.10-05.22.10 :: Open Air :: Northern Israel,
Both the electronic music and festival scenes have been growing rapidly in Israel over
the last decade or so, and Moksha Project has been one of the most
prominent facilitators of each. Over the last 11 years, Moksha has developed quite a
reputation amongst electronic music lovers here. Renowned for their underground nature
parties - overnight dance parties located in remote wilderness throughout the country -
Moksha outdid themselves with the 4th Annual Indigo Festival. With four different
stages (including the Yellow Submarine Stage hosting open jams throughout the festival)
and drawing over 5,000 people, Indigo is their pinnacle event and one of Israel's biggest
multi-day camping festivals. As such, it is one of the few festivals in Israel capable of
attracting big international names the likes of the UK's Simon Posford and
(a.k.a. Benji Vaughan), along with popular homegrown acts such as Madboojah Project
and Activator. In accordance with Israeli tastes, the 40-plus act lineup was
dominated by psy-trance DJs, but still offered a smattering of dub-step, house, minimal-
techno and even a few non-electronic bands. There was also a multitude of extra-musical
activities at the Galactic Village, including various workshops and holistic healing
With abundant psychedelia and good vibes all around, Indigo felt very similar to many
American festivals. Though for all its similarities, it wasn't without its Israeli
idiosyncrasies, the biggest difference being set time organization. Where most American
festivals have all their major acts in the evening with some kind of break at night,
headlining sets were split between around 10 pm and 8 am, with music around the clock.
Indigo was also markedly less commercialized than most American festivals, with only a
small row of independent merchants and minimal advertisements.
Nestled tightly at the scenic junction of the Jezreel and Jordan River Valleys just north
of the city of Beit Shean, Moksha could not have chosen a better location for the
festival. Taking a dip in Ganei Chuga's vast pools offered a refreshing refuge from the
oppressive daytime heat, while the surrounding hills provided a majestic backdrop during
our three-day journey.
Though there's some minor organizational kinks to work out, particularly the police
presence and disorganized entry process, which was way too long for a festival of this
size (Israelis really have zero concept of what a line is or should be), Indigo turned out
to be one of the most enjoyable festivals this small country has to offer.
Indigo Festival Top 5
Brother - Main Stage – Thursday - 22:30 – UK
With a new album dropping this year, Younger Brother, the first of the headlining sets,
had weighty expectations to live up to. Unfortunately, Simon Posford, half of its two-
pronged DJ cavalry was incapacitated for their set, leaving Benji Vaughan flying solo.
Without Posford, who plays guitar as well as DJs during Younger Brother sets, it wasn't
quite all it could have been – but still Vaughan managed spin out one helluva set. Not as
intense as their full live band performances, Vaughan's set was reminiscent of YB's
more down-tempo studio productions. The crowd seemed well versed in their material,
shouting along to some of their more famous tunes such as "I Am a Freak."
4. Haltya -
Main Stage – Saturday -12:00 – Finland
After two days had elapsed, that pulsating psy-trance template had become all too
familiar. So by midday Saturday, Finnish DJ Tommi Sirkiä's (a.k.a. Haltya) novel
approach to the oft-homogenous genre was as refreshing as the cool mist being sprayed from
the Main Stage's canvas ceiling. Psychedelic only partially describes Haltya's melodious
psy-trance productions. Funk and Latin influences abound, mixed with glitched-out drum
breaks and of course psychedelic synthesized timbres; 'funkadelic' would be the proper
nomenclature for the Scandinavian's music. These fresh elements were just what we needed
to keep us raging on through the sweltering midday heat.
3. U.r.i.n.i.m.u. - Alternative Stage – Saturday - 15:00 – Israel
By far the biggest discovery at the festival, I caught the Israeli trance-fusion trio
U.r.i.n.i.m.u. just before the close of Indigo 2010. The trancey beats spun out by
Idan Margalit (guitar/DJ/keyboards) reached epic heights with the aid of former Ozric Tentacle's
drummer Roi Brosh on an electric kit (amazingly it was his first show with the
band) and bassist Elad Cohen. There's a compositional depth to Margalit's
productions that the rest of the trance-scene here seems to lack. Tightly-knit composed
parts mixed delicately with lengthy psychedelic improvisations, which draw from a myriad
of genres. U.r.i.n.i.m.u. were highly reminiscent of many of those in the American
'livetronica' scene such as Bisco, STS9 or The New Deal. Of all their eclectic
influences, Pink Floyd was the most salient given Margalit's sparse David Gilmour-like
guitar and even a killer trance-remix of "One of These Days." Still basically unheard of
outside their native country, these guys are poised for some international recognition.
It would be great to see them playing some festivals in the U.S. sometime soon.
2. Madboojah Project - Main Stage – Friday - 0:00 – Israel
The brainchild of Shlomo Avratz (assorted string instruments) and Udi Ben
Knaan (DJ), the Israeli-bred Madboojah Project is trance with an organic twist and one
of the most unique sounds of any live act in Israel. On top of Ben Knaan's pounding
trance beats, the guitar/lyra/rebab/bouzouki of Avratz, the electric violin and lush
vocals of Tania Vinokur, the rocky drums of Idan Carmeli and the bagpipes
(as well as other wind instruments) of Uri Miles gives their music a kind of East-
meets-West feel. A sparkling rendition of "Amazing Grace" at the end of their set was one
of the highlights of the festival.
1. Simon Posford - Main Stage – Friday - 8:00 – UK
In his fly feather-capped fedora, Simon Posford slyly crept onto the stage in the early
morning heat. Really not much of a spectacle in the broad daylight, with no light show,
turning knobs bashfully at the back of the stage, the three-hour Posford hodgepodge was
all about the sound and the feel. Opening up with some light Shpongle material from his
latest release, Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland, the down-tempo, glitchy
beats surreptitiously metamorphosized into hard-hitting trance. Shpongle's music is hard
to pin down – as any cutting edge music should be. Some label it a sub-genre of
psy-trance, others down-tempo or ambient; I simply dub it electronic world music.
Eclectic rhythms laid on top of eccentric time signatures coalesced in the air with
timbres that have only ever seen the light of day in Posford produced tracks, mixed, of
course with more organic samples such as a delicately plucked classical guitar.
Posford's live DJ sets are more of an exhibition than an actual concert. Those familiar
with Posford's work know that all the subtle manipulations in the music were designed long
before he takes the stage, as much of what he does live is just hit play and dance – to
the point where he at times completely relinquished his reins at the laptop to grace us
with some of his finest dance moves up at the front of the stage. But really, the
ingenious creativity of his studio work more than makes up for his lack of involvement
live. Aside from a raging, dubbed-out remix of "Gamma Goblins," the first half of the
set was mostly the shamanic insanity of Shpongle, while the latter half of the set saw
more of the heavy-hitting psy-trance of Hallucinogen.
Gana was the first set I caught upon entering the festival; a unique, acoustic
trance experience with nothing more than a live drummer and two didgeridoos.
The UK's Man With No Name and France's Tikal both played
early in the day Saturday and were two of the best psy-trance DJs at the festival. The
Professor offered a lengthy set of mostly down-tempo reggae and dub music Friday
afternoon to chill out to. The obscure Israeli DJ Argaman was one of the most
unique DJs at the festival, mixing elements of trance with classical and other genres in a
very progressive way. Unfortunately, after raging full-on through the night Thursday, I
physically couldn't stay awake through all of Prometheus's set midday Friday, but
the little I did catch of his diverse set was some of the best music Indigo had to
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