Kutiman
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Kutiman

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel | INDIE

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel | INDIE
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An absolutely massive slice of modern, psychedelicized Afrobeat… from Israel. Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel already shares part Fela Kuti's name, so perhaps this was fated from the beginning. He is a one-man band, but it's obvious he likes playing the drums most of all, as the beat on "No Reason for You" is a sick, funked-up descendant of John Bonham's loudest moments. The arrangement and production add to the hugeness, with a slippery baritone sax part and synthesizer hook that make it instantly memorable. He also has some interesting animated videos on his MySpace page. I can’t wait to hear this guy's first full-length. - Joe Tangari


Fusing vintage influences with the modern psychedelic, Israeli multi-instrumentalist and composer Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel captures the essence of the great funk. Loaded with scratchy guitar riffs, horn arrangements, and the catchy vocal hooks of his affiliate musicians, wonderfully produced Kutiman’s first full-length album delivers everything we love about hip-swaying funk and the feeling of the 70’s. Dabbling in afro-beat, soul and disco grooves, Kutiman keeps my head spinning and my feet moving. - Julija


One of the greatest pleasures in reviewing music is finding something fresh and new that really blows your mind. For this reason, Kutiman’s ‘Music Is Ruling My World’ is the stand-out album I’ve reviewed thus far for 2007; and it’s going to take some beating. Big words, I know – but ‘Music Is Ruling My World’ delivers.

Ophir “Kutiman” hails from Tel Aviv, but the sounds collected on this fine mix of phat grooves suggest he hails from an entirely different place and time. Musically, the guy is a freak, with skills in composition, production, drums, keyboards, guitar and bass. He played, arranged and produced most of this album himself. ‘Bango Fields’ is all acid jazz; think Jamiroquai and other lush sounds coming out of London in the mid 90s. The half-time changes and beat pauses give it soul, removing any notion of formula, really grabbing your attention early on.

‘No Reason For You’ (definitely the fave on the CD) has a massive sound. Think funk and dirty bass delivered Lenny Kravitz style, with huge wailing horns that ooze booty-shakin melodies. What I would give to hear this through a mega system on steroids! That riff is just awesome. I’ve freaked a few people out at traffic lights soaking this one up in the car. Moving to ‘Take A Minute’, and it’s all cruisy beats in a summer style; silky background tunes resplendent with atmospheric sounds from the seaside. It’s Brighton in the UK circa the late 1950s; cruisy laid back jazz.

Then, it’s back to the US for ‘No Groove Where I Come From’, which in another life was surely meant for a James Brown set list. That’s until it goes all acid jazz and the sound gets even bigger. Kutiman clearly loves the big soundscape, and he does it nicely. ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’ is the kinda track you’ll end up hearing on a classic Ministry of Sound chill-out compilation. It’s pretty with great production, thankfully not too sterile. Then you launch into ‘Chaser’, and it’s back to James Brown kinda sounds, with more of the acid jazz treatment.

If you Kutiman hasn’t impressed you enough just yet, then the Motown treatment of ‘Escape Route’ will have you convinced, once again delivering a delectable bass. ‘Trumpet Woman’ has more of a live jazz feel, with plenty of trumpet that wouldn’t seem out of place in a smoky club. Then, just as it’s nearly over, ‘Music Is Ruling My World’ comes in with another killer riff. I was sold already before now, so this was just bonus.

Without a doubt, this is a must listen CD. It’s hard to imagine any avid music lover would fail to get their value for money with the sounds that Kutiman pumps out. It’s an engaging and wonderfully produced effort, devoid of filler. Take note; Kutiman is an artist who will one day rival the greats – got on board early so you can tell your kids you got into Kutiman before he got big!
- Barkus


I feel like I've gotten away with a crime listening to this song, my booty like the wheels of a getaway car over lined pavement. This song is all asphalt, as in ass-fault, as in fault line, as in line of coke, as in coca-cola, as in brown syrupy liquid, dripping down the back of your hand, onto the dancefloor, mixing with the loose change, dripping from my pockets, 'cause I got money to burn. I'm rich when I listen to this, I'm hot-steppin', noose-preppin', you know what I mean? It's over, brother, and I'm taking all of this stuff with me, even your chair. That means you, and you, and you, are coming with me. Get it? I didn't come for the breakdown, I came for the verses, as in vs., as in we're fighting this out, this ends tonight! Time to test your addictions, see if they're still there. Watch out!! - STG blog


When one think's of cities with the funk, one does not think of Tel Aviv! Yet there along the Mediterranean Sea in Israel is one of the funkiest people on the planet; Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel. Kutiman is a 25-year-old Israeli that can do just about everything under the sun musically and the results of his ambidexterity are something that sounds so far removed from the Middle East that it might very well shock you into thinking Tel Aviv is actually called Funkopolis.

Kutiman has such an urban psychedelic funk feel to it, that it sounds like it came from the back alleyways of Brooklyn. It's the soundtrack to the greatest Blaxpoitation films never made so much so you can see the car chases and gun fights as this album slides around and denies itself a chance to catch its breath.

Kutiman has grooves in excess. It's a jazzy, soulful workout that has more funk than Bootsy Collins' glasses. This is the sort of record that Quentin Tarantino cherishes. It's the sort of thing where you can almost see Samuel L Jackson causing havoc somewhere and loving every minute of it.

If funk died someone obviously forgot to tell Mr. Kutiel, because tucked away in Israel he has come up with probably the most soulful and funkiest record around. Songs like "No Reason For You," just blow the doors off the joint while more mellow moments like "Once You're Near Me," get all jazzy while maintaining the slightest hint of psychedelic space funk for aliens. It's definitely space age bachelor pad music except its straight out of the Mediterranean.

Kutiman is a fun listen. It's like a time portal back to 1973 and the seventies never sounded so good. Find some polyester, platforms and bring on the funk. - Paul Zimmerman


"Kutiman plays nearly every instrument in the mix (aside from a few horns and guest vocal spots); the result is a spirited and texturally rich mix of psychedelic soul and Afro-funk, with slippery grooves and snapping beats." - Under the Radar, "Artists to Watch in 2008" - Matt Fink


Ophir Kutiel's eponymous debut could have you fetching for bell-bottoms and platform shoes.

Though the music comes by way of Tel Aviv instead of Woodstock, Kutiel, with assistance and inspiration from musical partner-in-crime DJ Saboo, has crafted an album worthy of those expressive, free-spirited days of flower-power lore.

"No Reason For You" is awash in organic psychedelica with crackling electric guitar bits. "Losing It" deftly combines hard-edge funk and Afrobeat rhythms for a seamless blend that goes down like buttah. Go ahead, take that ride into the mutherfunkin' universe. Just don't forget those shoes. - XLR8R magazine


I know music I like when I hear it. I've never been able to enumerate a list of things I like or don't like in music, and I don't always necessarily know why I like something-- it just flips that switch we all have inside of us. Ultimately, I don't think it's important to know why we like the music we do, because the act of liking it is self-justifying. I'm saying all this in part because I couldn't immediately think of a way to describe what's so great about Kutiman. I know one thing, though: I like this.
Ophir Kutiel (the Kutiman moniker stems from his family name, but could as easily be read as admiration for Nigerian Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti) is a solo act from Tel Aviv, Israel, a one-man band who occasionally brings in his friends when he thinks they can improve the sound or he needs some horns (he needs them often). His music is something like Israel itself, a mishmash of things from all over the world, the old and the new side by side, a melting pot with a common overarching identity. He's schooled in the funk and fusion of the 1970s, Afrorock and Afrobeat, heavy psych from the 60s, hip-hop and modern R&B, a bit of reggae and dub, a couple decades of electronic music, and the general art of the groove.

This comes together in a fantastic, head-spinning debut album, a psyched-up groove monster that can't decide between vintage and modern and instead just has it both ways. It works in the same way a lot of releases on the Ubiquity label, like Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra or Will Holland's Quantic, work, by finding that switch that makes you forget about the why and just enjoy the what. It opens with a light appetizer in instrumental "Bango Fields", a basic funk track topped with a squiggle of ring-modulated analog synth that suggests Kutiel might be able to make a pretty good living as a hip-hop producer, but that barely prepares the listener for the album as a whole.

"No Reason For You", one of several tracks that features vocals by Elran Dekel, follows with a crushing Led Zeppelin beat, heavy Fela horn section, huge, sweeping chorus, and a towering, psychedelic hook that sounds like a cross between a choir and a string section but actually probably comes from a synthesizer. The synthesizer on "Once You're Near Me" is more playful, sort of an electro-exotica hook for Dekel to play off. He's a pretty versatile singer, giving a pointed, almost ominous performance on "No Reason", while his contribution to "Once You're Near Me" sounds like a lounge signer sucked into an echo chamber.

Kutiel's other principle vocal collaborator, Karolina, has a voice sort of like a melting trumpet-- you can tell she's listened to a least a few Billie Holiday records. She sounds especially great on the jazz-inflected "Trumpet Woman", wherein she imitates the titular instrument to great effect over a miles-thick bass line and chilled-out drumbeat. She gets a little more down and dirty on the spectacular funk workout "Music Is Ruling My World", given a kickass drum break and a big horn section to duke it out with. Even when the album moves away from funk workouts, it remains engrossing. "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" provides a chilly interlude at the album's midpoint, with muted trumpet and saxophone wandering through an R&B fog driven by a downtempo funk beat. The closest thing I can think to compare it to is DJ Shadow's "What Does Your Soul Look Like? (part 1)."

Somewhere in all that, there are a whole lot of reasons to like this record. It's an album that feels right all over the place-- in the car, at home late at night, on a large soundsystem at a party...Kutiman takes all his influences, gives them a swirl and emerges with a great debut that hits that elusive switch over and over.
- Joe Tangari


Kutiman is the debut solo release of Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel, an Israeli musician/producer who has become well-known in music circles as a multi-instrumentalist and boardman for any number of djs. Kutiman’s self-titled release is a cottage project --- think Moby, in his apartment, doing what he does --- which consists of live recordings, some solo and others with some of the musicians he has worked with before (MC Karolina and Sangit, among others). The result is a surprisingly varied and engaging work that not only satisfies on first take but also rewards repeated plays.

The primary references here would be Everything But The Girl with the (occasional) minimalism of Massive Attack. Kutiman, however, is a bit more playful, venturing into funk territory (No Groove Where I Come From, Chaser, Escape Route) and doing so quite well when he does. My personal favorites tend to be the tracks with Karolina ---Losing It, Trumpet Woman, and Music Is Ruling My World, with Losing It, in particular, incorporating a strong afro-beat styling over Karolina’s vocals. It’s really hard to pick a winner, however, particularly when you have a disc with so many strong tracks, in such a variance of styles. I Just Wanna Make Love To You --- not the Willie Dixon composition --- begins with a dreamy, repetitive and smoky melody, with Chaka Moon crooning the title over and over --- before abruptly turning into a rambunctious instrumental jam of guitars, horns, and keys that strains against the constrictions of the tempo before settling down again for a few seconds. Once You’re Near Me, featuring Elran Dekel, is, I swear, a take-off on Our Day Will Come, by Ruby & The Romantics, at least until mid-point, where Kutiman takes a left turn into funkland with a smoking hot trumpet solo over Dekel’s rap.

Kutiman, unlike a number of projects of this type, never gets bogged down in the gravitas of its own self-importance. Kutiel sounds as if he’s having fun without getting silly or stupid, and without wasting his considerable musical chops as well. Kutiman is that rare dance project that is stimulating, engaging, and entertaining from beginning to end. - Music Review.com


The 7-Eleven is a fine establishment for many different reasons: one-minute burritos, colossal Slurpees and the furriest, most solidified dogs in town. But who knew it would lead to shaping the next Israeli wunderkind? Meet Kutiman, a Tel-Aviv-based multi-instrumentalist who discovered his passion for a vast array of music through listening to the radio at his convenience store gig. Flash forward five years or so to October 2007, and Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel has signed to Cologne, Germany's Melting Pot Music and readied a self-titled debut album (click here to check out audio clips) that will have your head spinning - not just not because dude's from Israel and sounds like he could sit in with his namesake's Africa 70 supergroup, but because dude sounds like he could lead Africa 70. That said, Kutiman has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve, fusing his love for Afrobeat, psych rock, funk and reggae. The second single taken from the album, "Music Is Ruling My World" is a stunningly tight throwback to the classic funk arrangement: the beat is complex and firm enough to have thrown off the Godfather of Soul, the horns carry both the melody and song's pronounced wallop and then there's guest singer Karolina (a member of Funset, who needs to be discovered on her own - check out the scorching space reggae/funk throwdown "Lion" on her MySpace), who delivers the cherry on top with what is certainly a memorably fierce vocal dripping with sexed-up soul. It almost feels wrong listening to it without being in a club and setting fire to the dance floor. Who's got a light?
- Ca Lindsay


Discography

"No Groove Where I Come From" 7" (Afro Kats) October 2006

"No Groove Where I Come From! 12" (MPM) Novemver 2006

"No Reason For You" 12" (MPM) March 2007

"Music Is Ruling My World" (w/ remix by DJ Day) 12" (MPM) June 2007

"Kutiman" CD/LP (MPM) European release November 2007/ USA release 2008

Photos

Bio

"An Absolutely Massive Slice of Modern, psychedelicized Afrobeat" Pitchfork Mag (USA)

"Definitely one to watch!" - DJ Magazine (London)

"Psychedelic space funk architect" Straight No Chaser (London)

"Mostly perfect for summer jamming purposes." The Fader (New York)

"Absolutley feeling this one right now" - Gilles Peterson (Worldwide)

"Beautifully heavy." Turntable Lab (New York/LA)

Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel is a 25 year old musician, composer and producer from Tel Aviv. He plays drums, keyboards, guitar and bass , among others and we strongly believe that he will leave his mark in 2007 and beyond.

Ok, it is our job to brag and boast about our artists on a promo sheet like this, but Kutiman really is special. His music draws influences from afro-beat, psychedelic rock, funk and reggae but in different way than most disciples of Fela and Mr.Brown have done before. Clever heads may even spot some Special AKA, Chocolate Watchband or the pre-historic drum-machine Sly Stone introduced on "There's A Riot Goin' On" on Kutiman's self-titled first album. But being clever is the last thing Kuti tries to be with his music.

Kuti just plays what he feels and the fact that he is coming from a place far away from New York, LA and London (or wherever the latest musical trend is envolving) is surley one reason why his music shows such a great deal of originality. Believe it or not, it was only five years ago, that Kutiman was introduced to the music of Fela Kuti and James Brown, through his friend and now musical partner DJ Sabbo.

"I am an UFO from Zichron, a small village in the north of Israel", Kuti jokes about his upbringing. He started playing piano at six and switched to drums and guitar at 14. When he turned 18 he moved to Tel Aviv, to study music at the Rimon Music College. Around that time music meant jazz to him. "But working in a local Seven-Eleven store I started listening to a college station which opened me to all sorts of music that I had never heard before." he remembers. "I was shocked and excited to find out there's so much music around."

And Kuti was quick to absorb these new influences and started developing his own sound and vision. "The fact that Sabbo introduced me to the amazing world of funk and afrobeat simply changed my life" says Kuti, who today is an integral part of the small but growing groove scene in Tel Aviv. Music-fans may have heard about the local rave scene but most people think about the Middle East conflict and the pain and suffering that it brings to the lifes of all people living in the region, when they think of Israel's biggest city. Kutiman's first single "No Groove Where I Come From" with Elran Dekel on vocals was his comment on being a musician in Tel Aviv. "There are some great and gifted musicians in Tel Aviv, but the scene is so small we could all meet up in my room" he explains.

It was this funked up afrobeat anthem with it's cinematic finale that caught the attention of Melting Pot Music who released it on a 12" single last fall. A few weeks after becoming friends on MySpace, Kutiman signed with his already recorded album to the Cologne-based label.
The reactions on "No Groove Where I Come From" were simply phenomenal. Tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, Diplo and Roskow (Jazzanova) were instantly hooked, the Parisien afrobeat community welcomed Kutiman with open arms and and "Straight No Chaser" magazine dubbed him "Psychedelic space funk architect". But once you listen to Kutiman's whole album, you realise that afrobeat is only one shade of Kuti's kaleidoscopic sound. From Westindian grooves and easy listening to rock and soul and even pop there are no barriers. "Music Is Ruling My World", the title of Kuti's third single where he features local soul and groove diva Karolina sums it up best ("Half disco, half afrobeat and mostly perfect for summer jamming purposes." was "The Fader"'s verdict on the single). And while Kutiman recorded the bulk of the album all by himself, playing keys, drums, guitar, percussions and bass he also showcases many of his friends and favourite musicians from the scene in Tel Aviv.

Elran Dekel (lead singer of Funk'n'stein), Karolina (Funset) and Chaka Moon are sharing vocal duties, Dotan Sangit Segal and Idan K are playing percussions and the whole Funk'nstein brass section (Shlomi Alon, Yair Slutzki, Sefi Zisling) is featured too. And it was Kuti's longtime friend and production partner in various other projects, Ronen Sabbo, who helped mixing the album.