Kutiman ‘Wachaga’ LP/CD (Siyal) 5/5

‘Wachaga’ marks the new album release from the immeasurably talented Kutiman, hailed as an eclectic producer, multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker, Ophir ‘Kutiman’ Kutiel’s boundless talents have very possibly reached their pinnacle with the release of this – his fourth album – which has taken a staggering six years to come to fruition resulting in one of the most ambitious projects that I’ve encountered in recent years.

And as awe-inspiring a project as this is, ambitious and awe-inspiring projects really aren’t a new aspect for the Israeli musician at all, as is plainly evident from the litany of music available on his Bandcamp page. As well as being a hub to a treasure trove of diverse and bold music running the gamut from spiritual jazz to psychedelic funk, the collection of releases throughout is a testament to an unwavering commitment to pushing through any limits that may exist within his own capabilities – hurdles that are ultimately addressed by continually embracing new styles and cultures, see single releases ‘My Trip To Sri Lanka’, ‘Thru Krakow’, ‘Thru Tokyo’ and ‘Mix Hamburg’.

Musically all in stark contrast to each other with current, and fourth album release, ‘Wachaga’, seemingly worlds apart from Kutiman’s self-titled and debut album, released as far back as 2007. At its core, the album served as a raw funk record that beautifully intertwined twinges of electronica to exquisite effect. It was the first definitive and distinctly Kutiman record gifted to the world that saw him set the rules and then ingeniously rewrites them through his subsequent releases.

‘Wachaga’ places Kutiman in the company of the choirs of the Wachaga nation – Machame NKweshoo Women’s Group, Ee –Yeiyo Boma Ctw, Maasai Tribe Choir. Recorded by Kutiman in Tanzania during his visit in 2014, his extensive recordings went beyond the intended sessions of the choirs’ chants with inspiration also being sought from commonplace effects like children playing. With all of these recordings pieced together and amalgamated with pangs of electronica and the inclusion of his own instrumentals layered underneath the vocals, the results really are masterful.

But in true Kutiman fashion, ‘Wachaga’ is very much an audio-visual project with each of the nine songs presented here being accompanied by their own psychedelic visuals from video recordings made during 2014’s visit. We fleetingly referenced Kutiman as a filmmaker early on in this review but his mind-blowing concepts and vision in this field really can’t be overlooked. In this instance, his visuals help to propel ‘Wachaga’ into something even more special but perhaps his most revered visual projects lay in his incredible ‘Thru You Too’ series which saw him create songs from disparate pieces of YouTube videos as an ongoing series which I’d urge people to check out if anyone reading this has yet to do so.

Where Kutiman’s music goes from here is anyone’s guess – whether his passions take him to another part of the world or whether they see him tear up the rule book again, the results are sure to be awe-inspiring.

Imran Mirza