Yonatan Gat defies genres at Princess Café
While many modern bands will hole up for months in the studio to craft the perfect album, Gat approaches studio time as an opportunity to express energy in a raw and meaningful form.
Yonatan Gat doesn’t do concerts.
On July 6, Gat along with Sergio Sayeg and Gal Lazer positioned themselves in the centre of the Princess Café, a seemingly unconventional placement for any musical group. But this was no mistake. Immersion within the audience allows the group to draw energy and inspiration into their largely improvised sets.
“Our musical decisions have a lot to do with vibe we’re picking up from the room … if it’s going to be a good or bad show it’s up to [the audience],” Gat said.
Since the dissolution of his original band “Monotonix,” Gat has shifted his efforts towards a genre-defying solo project. Under his own name, Gat builds songs of epic proportions through the use of improvisation. Subtle streaks of Gat’s garage roots remain, but these textures are upheld by the dynamic infusion of jazz, afrobeat, punk and everything in between. The improvised nature of Gat’s body of work allows it to grow in organic fashion into something truly alive. It makes for a live show that can only be comprehended through experience.
“Improvisation captures something urgent, something energetic, something real … it’s about something that creates itself, something that is bigger than you in a way.”
Illuminated by their respective coloured spotlights, the band members delivered their grandiose set while operating within their own creative spheres. A solidarity and introversion can be felt between the musicians, although this is only indication of the care and cognizance needed to deliver an improvised set night after night. The colours and sounds melded in kaleidoscope fashion, ebbing and flowing from danceable grooves to face-melting waves of brutality. Onlookers were induced into a drug-like state by the sonic energy.
Some swayed limp armed, while others stood eyes shut and hands clasped; absorbing every decibel with apparent attention.
Intimacy comes easy for Yonatan and company.
“Every show is intimate even when we play a huge venue,” Gat explained.
The band approaches the recording much like they do so with their live show. Working within extremely tight time constraints in the recording studio, the band has gone so far as to record an entire project in 24 hours.
These short time frames allow the band to maintain a sense of urgency and unpredictability in their records. While many modern bands will hole up for months in the studio to craft the perfect album, Gat approaches studio time as an opportunity to express energy in a raw and meaningful form.
“We have zero interest in the perfect take. We just want to document the vibe.”
This same philosophy was applied to the recording of their upcoming EP, which was produced by Steve Albini and is set for release this fall. Gat described the record as “a very intense 12 minutes of pure brutality” and in true Yonatan Gat fashion, the band has drawn inspiration from an unlikely source.
“We would go to these really wild hip-hop parties in Brooklyn, and the music was trap music coming from Atlanta … it’s heavy and fast at the time, it’s one of my favourite things about that kind of music,” Gat said.
Sadly, audiences will have to wait a few months to hear the trap-inspired project in a live setting. The vibe of the band’s latest set at Princess Café was reminiscent of their latest project “Director,” an album that transports the listener through the seas, tropics and deserts of the band’s travels.
As the set wound down, the band ended their main set with a skewered rendition of “North to South,” which found Sayeg propelling the song forward with a strutting and sexy bass line. Lazer battered his drum skins with unfathomable precision and speed, while his eyes fixated at the far corner of the room. Atop the aggressive low-end stood Gat’s confident and trebled guitar, which seamlessly flowed between hypnotic leads and distorted bursts.
The audience pleaded for one last song to which the band gladly obliged. Taking the listeners once again on their journey, the band performed a catalogue highlight “East to West,” much to the pleasure of the audience.
Even after the band’s final note, the audience remained entranced in Gat’s world. An afterglow of sorts remained.
Call it what you like, perhaps a journey, a meeting or an exchange. But I can assure you one thing, this was not a concert. This is the work of men who stand as masters of their craft.