Israel’s Kutiman Drops Ambient Atmospheric “Surface Currents”

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KUTIMAN A songwriter, producer, orchestra leader, mixologist, filmmaker: Kutiman’s job description changes by the day. “Psychedelic space funk Architect” is just another used about him. While he may be too modest to agree, everything the Israeli musician does comes under one general description: pioneer.

Skilled in several mediums of art, Kutiman launched into the music scene in 2007 with the worldwide debut of his critically acclaimed, self-titled album. It received raving reviews from top music critics including Pitchfork, CLR8R, The Fader and DJ Magazine.

Just two years later, Kutiman’s interest in the alchemy of digital video art and warm soulful music saw his groundbreaking online music video “mash-up” series ThruYOU soar to an incredible ten million views on YouTube in only two weeks. It was later named one of the “50 Best Inventions of 2009” by Time Magazine, inspiring Kutiman to create more audiovisual magic in the years to come.

In 2015, the documentary titled Presenting Princess Shaw was produced about Kutiman and the star of his hit song “Give It Up.” The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received rave reviews across various media outlets. The BBC called Presenting Princess Shaw “a coherent and captivating documentary” while MTV labeled it “a total delight.” The film was then picked up by Participant Media and Magnolia Pictures and has been taken on a world tour at various film festivals. Recently it won the Israeli Academy Award (Ophir Awards) for “Best Documentary.” The film has also recently become available on Netflix, Amazon video and iTunes.

In 2016, he released his album 6am, a brilliantly inventive soundscape of indie soul and psychedelic groove. The album blends proverbial eastern promise with elements of rock, dance, soul and jazz into “a scuzzy desert epic” (The Guardian). 

Kutiman also premiered his virtual masterpiece “Off Grid” in his first exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in late 2016. Off Grid, which was launched last year, is composed of 38 minutes and 6 seconds of over a hundred video clips that create a fascinating and challenging work of free psychedelic jazz. At the exhibit, the work is deconstructed into the channels that compose it. Most recently, the exhibit premiered at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco July 2017.

Over the last couple of years Kutiman have been focusing on releasing diverse music ranging from the Greenpeace commissioned Antarctica modern classical project, to his Anatolian Funk collaborations with Turkish songstress Melike Sahin, to his New Age project “Don’t Hold Onto The Clouds” as well as his cinematic Psych funk sound on his Layla and Lines From Different Sources Eps. Kutiman also released his latest album Wachaga, ​ an audio-visual feast of nine tracks and nine accompanying kaleidoscopic video pieces, a combination of local musicians recorded by Kutiman on his 2014 trip to Tanzania and his own playing and studio wizardry.

His music has been licensed to Netflix (Snowpiercer) and Apple TV (Saving Alice) as well as Facebook campaigns.

“Music for doing things”. That’s the intention Kutiman had for ‘Surface Currents’, his forthcoming album of ambient atmospherics and modular experiments (drops April 2, 2021). But its beautiful sounds are deeply calming and refreshing, making this a perfect album to do nothing to as well. Composed and recorded at his home in the middle of the Negev Desert, where the solace and tranquility of his surroundings allow him to truly stretch his creativity, Kutiman’s quiet and solitary lifestyle imbues this project with an ethereal yet joyous aura. 

Having achieved worldwide acclaim for his Thru You projects, whereby he created new songs by editing together clips of amateur YouTube performances, Kutiman has applied an impeccable attention to detail over a series of releases influenced by psychedelic funk, Afrobeat, rock, progressive soul, and myriad sounds from around the world, in the process attracting support all across BBC Radio 6 Music, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Worldwide FM and Vinyl Factory. 

Kutiman’s “compulsion to create”, as he puts it, is relentless. So much so, he made a promise to himself to deliver a number of projects over the course of the year, each one exploring a different side of his musical mind. The concept for ‘Surface Currents’ sprung into being whilst the producer and multi-disciplinary artist was working on visual clips and animation. His preferred music for such tasks being ambient, and classical Indian ragas, his “practical music”. Listening repeatedly to Terry Riley, William Basinski, and in particular the latter’s ‘Water Music’ album, he felt inspired to record his own ambient music. The experience of making this music was just as refreshing and therapeutic for Kutiman too, as it allowed for long and slow improvisations, exploring and delving into one instrument at a time.

On the title track, built around a bed of piano arpeggios, Kutiman weaves other-worldly synth flutes, soothing siren sounds and subtle wooden percussion. The quiet addition of birdsong only cements the feeling of sunrise.  The low-end synth drones on “Offshore” resonate directly through your body, harmoniously complemented with harp-like keys and deep humming.  Finally, the beautiful “Coral Blossom” has the jazziest feel on this collection, as weightless piano motifs interplay with synthetic bass tones.

With ‘Surface Currents’, Kutiman explores new creative ground, whilst making a significant contribution to the worlds of ambient and electronic music. Moreover, it may provide a gentle antidote to the swarming mass of anxieties and demands on attention of the modern world. 

Press for Surface Currents

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