Kutiman Kutiman

Kutiman Kutiman
Purportedly the funkiest man in Tel Aviv, Kutiman’s name isn’t actually the cheap rip-off it suggests at first blush, and neither is his music. To describe Ophir Kutiel’s self-titled debut as "Afrobeat meets the JBs with dashes of prog rock and electronic” would be reasonably accurate but not necessarily curiosity-inducing. You could compare his music to Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies, and an image of retro-retro sounds comes to mind. Yet Ophir Kutiel, who has only been playing funk-inspired music for five years, has created a disc that is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s near-indefinable freshness to this disc. Part of the success is the sense of experimentation here — a standard issue JB’s groove like "No Groove Where I Come From” will start pleasantly enough, with plenty of head-nodding potential, then Kutiman builds it up into an anthem of power chords and horns. Similarly, "Escape” is a funky shuffle until the beats start getting subtracted, glitch-style, but funkier. His long-form melodies gain more momentum and personality as the elements of the song gradually reconfigure. The unashamedly vintage sound — think Daptone’s "far East” sound — helps glue everything together, even as Afrobeat shuffles give way to Krautrock synth grooves within the same song.

You were introduced to James Brown and Fela Kuti only five years ago. Did you have an appreciation for polyrhythms in your music prior to that?
Growing up in a small village in the north of Israel means "no groove where I come from.” Funk wasn’t part of my life up until five or six years ago when I moved to Tel Aviv and was introduced to the amazing word of funk and Afrobeat through a good friend. I’m not even sure I knew what polyrhythms were before that.

You have mentioned that the groove scene in Tel Aviv is rather small. Is there a lot of musical interchange between different scenes?
Yes, the Tel Aviv groove scene is very small but we have some great artists, bands and players. I think that as there isn’t really such a thing called traditional Israeli music, the variety is very rich. The roots of people here are from all over the world, a collection of many cultures and origins. Each one brings their own influence and the result in some cases is a beautiful fusion between any genre and style. (Melting Pot)