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Kutiman pays Jerusalem undeground a visit

by ben June 12 2008
Things to do

Kutiman

Thanks to acts like Balkan Beat Box, The Apples and Jerusalem's own Coolooloosh, the Israeli party music scene has been gaining momentum internationally. More of a vibe than a genre, the unfairly compartmentalizing label "party music" can refer to anything that's primarily fun and designed to make crowds bounce, a classification that encompasses everything from frantic jazz jams to post-rave breakbeats to hip-hop to retro funk. Usually there are horns and DJs involved.

One of the scene's biggest players, 25-year-old Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel is set to play this Saturday night at Chet7, the literally underground venue housed at Beit Avi Chai.

With cross-pollination being the name of the game, it's no wonder that Israeli party music's leaders are also incestuous collaborators. Kutiman's hit single "Music is Ruling My World" features guest vocals from MC Karolina, an Oleh! Records label-mate of Coolooloosh, a sister band of Yellow Submarine mainstays Funk'n'stein. Kutiman and Funk'n'stein's saxophonist Shlomi Alon, meanwhile, also plays with Jerusalem organic hip hop exports Hadag Nachash, a band fronted by Sha'anan Streett. Streett, who has been involved in Mt. Scopus' student hangout Reznik, also moonlights as the curator for Chet7's Saturday night concert series, the brand that has organized Saturday's Kutiman performance.

A Rimon music school alumnus, Kutiman produced for Stephen Marley as well as Funk'n'stein before embarking on his solo career, and his self-titled debut full-length is "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," according to Pitchfork Media, generally known for giving stingy reviews. Released a few months ago at a Paris club and distributed locally by the mainstream Helicon label, the album has been received well, so it might not be long before Jerusalem's modest appetite for edgy party music becomes an insufficient draw for an act like Kutiman. Catch him while you can.

Photo of Kutiman by Dor Garbash courtesy of Helicon Records.

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