Director is the second full length release from New York based group Yonatan Gat. It is an energetic continuation of the genre splitting psychedelic rock sound that Israeli guitarist Yonatan Gat created with his band on their first release, Iberian Passage. Every aspect of this album is seriously impressive, from Gat’s crazy guitar riffing, Israeli drummer Gal Lazer’s African influenced and awe-inducing tight percussion, Brazilian bassist Sergio Sayeg’s woozy melodies, and most importantly, the intricacy of the composition.
Director as a concept could easily become muddled and overwhelmed with too many ideas and genre’s weaving in and out of the musical fabric. But a strong sense of vision (and pure talent) kept this LP tangible. Gat and his band are marked most often as a psychedelic punk group, but without the marked punk vocals you would expect – most of this LP is instrumental.
They also, as mentioned earlier, have world influences in their percussion, like marimba-esque chimes that bleed across into the guitar melodies. Gat’s guitar playing is just as diverse as the percussion, switching between noisy Black Sabbath strums, surf riffs, and joyful garage punk melodies. In addition, Gat does field recordings of what seem to be metropolitan soundscapes and works those into many of Director’s tracks. When vocals do come in, they don’t feel out of place or overworked; they’re just as intangibly energetic as the rest of the instrumentation, jumping between Hebrew, Portuguese, and English, sometimes within the same track.
All of this musical diversity makes Yonatan Gat seem like a group that compose with a serious, religious fervor. And that may ring true. But they also have more fun with their music than many musicians of their skill level. They aren’t afraid to let things get helter skelter, to push rhythms to the point of almost insanity and create melodies that dance and ring around the lucky listener. Their following is unjustly small, but the group just closed up a tour with night after night of sold-out shows and they’re signed to Joyful Noise Recordings alongside rad musicians such as Kishi Bashi, Lou Barlow, Surfer Blood, and Son Lux, so there is great, great promise for Yonatan Gat. They deserve every ounce of success the world has to give.
Notably rad tracks:
“Theme From a Dark Party” is a song that you have to keep yourself from playing on repeat as to not exhaust it. Reminiscent of Shannon & The Clams in the way that it oozes giddy punk energy, Yonatan Gat’s guitar playing shines on this track as it sings back and forth with itself.
“Boxwood” puts a pause on the punk fervor and sees the group create a softer sound, with acoustic guitar work and almost no percussion from Gal Lazer, that is until the last 30 seconds or so. Lazer comes in with a perfectly timed build that transitions seamlessly into “Gibraltar,” a track that lets Lazer’s work on the kit shine before Gat sweeps in with his psych riffs.
The closing track, “Tanto Que Nem Tem,” balances sweet Bossa Nova guitar melodies, spacey field recordings, and delicate vocals with intermittent sections of intense punk guitar and drum work. One of the most impressive tracks on the album, composition wise.
Recommended If You Like: Shigeto (for his mad drum skillz), Shannon & The Clams, EZTV, Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles, DRINKS, Junun (Album from Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, and The Rajasthan Express)
Recommended Tracks: Theme From a Dark Party (5), Tanto Que Nem Tem (11), Gibraltar (8), Casino Cafe (2), Gold Rush (4), North to South (6)