The Popstream: Kutiman, "Babylon Band"


I'm trying to imagine what the elapsed time was between the establishing of YouTube as an actual internet presence, waaaaay back on February 15, 2005, and the first time someone took a video that first appeared on YouTube and screwed around with it (almost inevitably resulting in something involving anime, video games and/or yelling like a dumbass). I'm also pretty sure that in the four-plus years since people finally found a place to upload footage of themselves practicing Pink Floyd songs on an acoustic guitar or singing off-key renditions of top 40 hits, someone somewhere attempted to create some sort of extended mix of YouTube amateur musicians' greatest moments. Israeli composer/musician/animator Ophir Kutiel -- better known as Kutiman -- took things even further, and put together an entire EP's worth of YouTube-sampling music. It's inspired stuff, to be sure, and it's been making the rounds in typical "hey, check out the Amazing Power of the Internet" fashion for about a week; I heard about it back on the 10th through music-critic circles and it's already burning up Gawker and Slashdot. But while it's brought up a lot of questions as to legality, the accelerated viral spread of memes and the future of shared content, at its essence is the fact that source material notwithstanding it's still sample-based pop music. And on that base level, how does it sound?

"Babylon Band" is the 4th "track" on/in Thru You, and oddly enough one of the lesser-viewed ones -- the first track, the Bernard "Pretty" Purdie-featuring "Mother of All Funk Chords", is getting an understandable amount of exposure and approaching an 80,000-view mark that may already have been surpassed as you're reading this, while the dubbed-out second track, "This Is What It Became", seems to be the breakout hit since it's past the 300K mark. (This is possibly because it may have been featured on a messageboard populated by every moron on Earth, hence comments like "invented a new art form? hahahaaaa if this shit is genius to u, u need to get laid!") But "Babylon Band" deserves some love, and not just because it's got a pretty wild structure -- the beat comes from this kid's gonzo attempt to play high-speed drum'n'bass breaks on a live drum kit, there's something that sounds like a didgeridoo melody but is actually an "evil" Moog, and on top of all that is a bouzouki player transmogrified into some kind of Greek Kerry King. But even if you've got your browser window minimized and just listen to the music without the choppy, rapidfire video-edit-as-loop visuals, it sounds like one of the best classic-style jungle tracks in a long time.