Endtroducing ... Kutiman


By Marke B. Kutiman, "Wait for Me"

In the future when vids are vinyl, and vinyl is -- what? La Chanson de Roland, maybe -- people might claim that Kutiman, the Israeli Vegas Pro genius who collages up backwater YouTube vids into breathtaking electronic atmospheric joyrides (see the complete work at http://thru-you.com), was the DJ Shadow of the '00s. Kutiman, "I M New"

I think those people would be wrong (and there are already a number of them). Searching through the all the minor dreck of YouTube to fish out suitable usable samples and build them into destabilized microsymphonies can surely be compared to Shadow's impeccable crate-diving technique. And the dense sound both derive from their purely sample-driven compositions elicits a similar melancholy (why is that?). But Shadow traded in rarity nostalgia -- who the hell else had that 78, man? -- whereas Kutiman's brilliant corners are purely of the moment and completely accessible to all. Except for one of them, now set to "private," ha. Kutiman is also way more international in musical scope than Shadow -- something perhaps more necessary in our globalized age, that Shadow could only hint towards in his Endtroducing... '90s heyday -- which brings Kutiman more in line with the likes of that other frequent Bay boy Amon Tobin, another sample-based innovator who opened the West's ears to a different native music contextuality and who eschewed nostalgia in favor of up-to-the-minute headtrip breaks. Kutiman, Babylon Band

A notable Kutiman exception -- and a telling one I think -- is his use of Bernard Purdie's legendary Purdie Shuffle in one of his earliest creations, "The Mother of All Funk Chords." Here, Kutiman really was digging something up from the past (although it had become a YouTube craze recently) and amping up its funk rather than twisting it into a future-dance or introcosmic soul mindfuck. Kutiman, The Mother of All Funk Chords

Anyway, who really needs comparisons, right? The work speaks for itself -- invigorating, often spine-tingling, and far too clever for mere mortals. Kutiman has his problematics (this interview made me want to punch him in the face: casually co-opting Fela Kuti seems... er ... infuriating, as do the priviledged-hippy underplayed-grand-statement overtones), and his output, as some sort of Tel Aviv funk wannabe maestro, before he hit upon this scheme was super-generic. Also, more subversively art-minded 'Tube-choppers like TV Carnage, Animal Charm, and TV Sherriff have already blazed the vid mashup trail -- and maybe YouTube itself is already so over that watching it qualifies as its own nostalgia? But Kutiman has, undeniably, found voice in a new medium, a voice that raises as many questions -- copyright, appropriation, privacy -- as it does goosebumps of pleasure. This kid's standing in no one's ... yes! bringing it back around! ... shadow.

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