Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Phil Thomas Katts The Uncharted Zone remains one of YouTubes strangest, most enduring music outposts
Screenshot: The Uncharted Zone (YouTube)

After over a month in quarantine, most of us have exhausted Spotify playlists, YouTube mixes, and TikTok feeds. We’re yearning for something new, something unexplored, something uncharted. Luckily, eccentric DJ Phil Thomas Katt and his freaky, long-running YouTube channel The Uncharted Zone are still clinging to the fringes after all these years.

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A musician in his own right, Katt is the main attraction of the Uncharted Zone, which, for more than 12 years, has been dropping grimy, out-of-time music videos as compelling as they are corny. With his shaggy black hair, sunglasses, and deep, brooding voice, he exudes a mystifying presence while showcasing both his own music and the one-of-a-kind videos he helps to produce.

The channel only has a modest following nowadays, but you might recall Mark Gormley’s viral 2009 hit,Without You,” which was born from The Uncharted Zone. Though the content varies, the hallmark is its namesake series, in which Phil Thomas Katt plays a series of music videos united by a loose theme and punctuated by commentary. Typically rock-focused, topics range from “Work Force” to “Lucky” to “Money. 

Several of the latest episodes have, as you might guess, addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. A particularly bleak addition to the series was titled “The Death of Love”: “In a world where the death of love has occurred this episode of UZ should be your soundtrack,” reads a description. It’s a playlist for the social distancing era, where physical expressions of love aren’t possible.

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The most recent episode, Pandemic,” takes a more direct approach, featuring nostalgic rock ballads and an abundance of cheesy green screen visuals. Included in the episode is the music video for Russ Maines’ “U Dunno Wut U Got,” in which the singer laments the temporary closure of his beloved Pensacola Beach. There’s also the trippy video for Paul Gormley’s “I Only Set The Stage,” in which the devil himself makes an appearance.

The pandemic’s also allowed for a more intimate experience with the channel via a Katt-hosted livestream concert/fireside chat. Because he was unable to play with his band, Katt sung along to recordings of his songs while swaying in and out of frame with reckless, camera-defying abandon.

At first it seemed like these fireside chats might recurring, but the process was more difficult than Katt anticipated. He writes in the description, “With So Many Staying Home, Many artist are doing Shows on The Internet so I thought it might be fun, it was and Hard.”

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

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