There is nothing subtle about this performance of "Cue the Machines" by Yonatan Gat. And that's pretty much true of nearly every part of this brash guitarist and his music, including his stint as part of the Israeli garage-rocker band Monotonix.
"Cue The Machines" begins with an Italian-Spanish recording by folklorist and archivist Alan Lomax from the 1950s, which gets sliced, amped and mangled into a fit of high-energy rage. Yonatan Gat explained, via email, the way this all came together — or to put it another way, how Gal Lazer's collapsing drums inspired and imbued this recording.
"'Cue the Machines' was recorded live and cut from a longer 20-minute improvisation with the energy building up. At some point, the drum kit started literally falling on our drummer as he kept playing. The best way to represent that chaos was to embrace it. Instead of hiding the out-of-control nature of the improvised take, we accentuated it, sampling the live recording of the band itself and creating stutters and glitches that add to the unhinged feeling.
These intense, loud bursts of energy on the album make the quieter parts quieter, such as the following album track 'Post-World.' One of the ideas was to push the dynamics to both ends – from very quiet to very loud, to create a wide, sonic environment.
The choir from Genoa (among Alan Lomax's favorite recordings in his long career) starts off clear, but sounded interesting when distorted, mangled and manipulated beyond recognition, chopped up like a hip-hop track, along with the band. The vocal samples may be from Italy, but they originate in Andalucía, a part of Spain I got to spend a lot of time in, watching the music and studying with incredible flamenco guitarists. Looking for the intensity I heard in the concerts in Andalucía was what gave me the idea to add the glitches and stutters, which almost sound like a digital representation of the right hand of a flamenco guitarist.
The video, directed by Gigi Ben Artzi (who also directed 'Medicine') is a homage to the genre, including a hypnotizing performance by one of the best upcoming dancers in the NY scene – Ryan Rockmore. Some of the singers are heavyweights of the same flamenco scene – Pedro Cortes, Ismael Fernandez and Jose Moreno. There is a guest appearance by Maalem Hassan Ben Jaafar, who leads the legendary New York-based Moroccan band, Innov Gnawa."
Yonatan Gat's album is called Universalists and is out now on Joyful Noise Recordings