Kutiman remixes Youtube.
This was first published in Hebrew on Sunday, March 8th here: e.walla.co.il
Written by our new friend, Polar Pair & Botanika Records Nadav Ravid, It was kindly and skillfully translated to English by our dear friend Roy Shay.
First off, and before anything else, clear yourself half an hour, make sure those speakers are properly plugged in, click on the link at the bottom of the page and watch the videos on www.thru-you.com - Seven audio-visual musical videos comprised only and entirely of clips found on www.youtube.com and edited by Kutiman.
This is, if I may so humbly and absolutely state, a groundbreaking cultural accomplishment; It is one of the most exciting audio-visual achievements of the last decade, a decade characterized mostly by a fascination of gadgets, start-ups and social networks and less with what people actually did with them.
Like any other substantial achievement, Thru You is also a unique, rare combination of a brilliant idea and and an equally flawless execution. Indeed, video samples combined with music are not a novel idea: EBN (Emergency Broadcast Network) pioneered some of this in the early 90s - the era of VHS and Beta - through to the end of the previous decade when Hextatic and Coldcut perfected the formula, the tools and the software with a CD-DVD, that was constructed solely of samples of audio-video footage and that had some truly inspiring, moving moments on it. The novelty factor here, though, lies in the fact that on Thru You, the audio and video raw material is all off of YouTube.
YouTube has gradually and systematically become the most spectacular digital content archive on line. The unfathomable richness of the content it stores, whether significant or not, has morphed into the business plan of countless other sites that are built around its content and links to its seemingly endless material. It is a musicians' heaven, too: Beyond the countless music videos and live gig footage it provides, are tens of thousands of tutorials and instructional videos that'll teach you how to play every musical instrument on the planet, in any style one could dream of; demonstrations of every synthesizer or sound machine ever produced and documentation of all flavours of strange modifications people have done to their equipment. Seek and you shall find.
In the past, a musician who wanted to make a musical collage of samples (or, assemblage, if you will) had to scour thousands of records to find a bare, stripped down musical element (guitars, percussion etc.) to layer. Today, a quick search on YouTube will find you any musical element you could possibly dream of.
How didn't anyone think of this first? That is still unclear. But Kutiman didn't excel just in concept; The execution is no less jaw-dropping. Incomprehensible levels of musicality, inspiration, whim and insight are needed to construct songs that capable of standing on their own. Kutiman, without ever having recorded a single note of his own throughout the entire project, managed to squeeze out the same infectious psych-funk that oozed off his debut album in 2007. A drum break here, a guitar lick there, organ solo from somewhere else entirely - Kutiman has disassembled these individual elements to the molecular level of the individual notes. This he then took further by chopping up the actual accompanying video itself, totally demystifying the process of sampling. What you see is what you get. And hear.
What is so enthralling while watching these clips is the knowledge and awareness of the fact that the original, sampled building blocks are in fact works of hundreds of passionate hobbyists who, through limited resources, uploaded videos of themselves playing, tinkering or modifying electronic equipment, usually on their own; At times, their loneliness is actually evident in their eyes: staring at their webcams while filming themselves playing their instruments in their bedrooms, somewhere out there in the world. As opposed to some musician sampled off of a forgotten piece of vinyl, these oblivious bedroom-musicians never expected or asked for any fame or recognition.
Kutiman compiled these disparate pieces of binary alienation, floating out there in the digital ocean, and with the aid of two tools of the same digital nature - a computer and a solid internet connection - did the simplest, most human thing: combined the two to create a breath-taking, moving piece of art. Soon, countless imitators will surely flood this ever-expanding ocean and endless discussions about artists' copy rights are bound to pop up everywhere you look. But don't let this distract you: Thru You is the most important cultural achievement you are likely to experience in the near future.
and on a smiliar note, make sure you pay a visit to Who Sampled , a website dedicated to finding the connections between a song and and the original track it used a sample source.
This is probably our favorite of the 7 different videos. Gotta listen all the way through to catch the genius at the end!