Kutiman: Wachaga (Siyal) Review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Aug 19, 2020 Kutiman Bookmark and Share

On Kutiman’s fourth LP, Wachaga, the Israeli funk producer reimagines his 2014 trip to Tanzania. The album, named after the roughly 2.4 million people that live on the southern and eastern sides of Mount Kilimanjaro, is an intentional distortion of his memory of the trip.

Kutiman brought microphones and video recording equipment on the trip and returned to Israel with “a set of recordings.” Kutiman began “dipping” into the recordings “to see how he could use them as a starting point for his own musical and visual explorations” as soon as he returned home in 2014. Six years later, those recordings were distorted and manipulated into Kutiman’s own creation.

The nine-track album comes with nine video accompaniments. Kutiman incorporates the audio recordings from 2014 with his own horn and synth melodies. All vocals and bells on the album are covered by Ee–Yeiyo Boma Ctw, Machame NKweshoo Women Group, and Maasai Tribe Choir. The videos, which are hypnotic distortions of footage of people and images Kutiman encountered on his trip, are made using “vintage analogue techniques.” They reflect “the emotions [Kutiman] felt while recording the music,” according to a press release. The videos transition from distorted but clear images of the album’s vocal performances to kaleidoscopic, abstract images.

During the trip, Kutiman was listening to “a lot of spiritual jazz.” Kutiman calls Wachaga a “departure from his usual looping and editing style” in the press release and says that, instead, he “played on top of the recordings.” It is clear that traditional jazz song-structures had a significant impact on Wachaga. The tracks tend to begin with booming choruses and then delve into solos from individual instruments.

The album has strong points where the vocal features and the funk in Kutiman’s production fully engulf the listener. During those moments, Kutiman successfully helps them experience Tanzania as he remembers it.

There are other points when the album feels too long. Although it is only 40 minutes, it is also only nine tracks, meaning the average track-length is over four minutes. The psychedelic transformations that his beats take on do keep the music interesting, but sometimes they are too subtle. The accompanying videos may serve to keep the listener’s attention during the longer songs. (www.kutiman.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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