Gat names Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett and King Crimson's Robert Fripp as influences

By Alex Heigl
Updated March 06, 2015 02:55 PM
Credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns

Yonatan Gat‘s old band, Monotonix, was once called “the most exciting live band in rock’s’ roll,” so there were no doubts that when the guitarist re-emerged, he’d have some interesting tricks up his sleeve.

And Gat’s newest release, Director (out now from Joyful Noise) is just such a trick. The record, which ping-pongs around surf, Latin guitar, funk drumming and found-object recordings with joyful ease, is a deeply felt, wonderfully unique listening experience, and one that Gat is going to be conjuring new interpretations of as he embarks on tour this month.

Gat’s co-conspirators, Brazilian bassist Sergio Sayeg and Israeli drummer Gal Lazer (Gat also hails from Israel) hammered out the songs with a mixture of improvisation and studio manipulation. “The first song on the record,” Gat tells PEOPLE, “came about the first time we played together. The second song is something we came up while playing another song – actually ‘Gold Rush,’ the fourth song on the record – and the end of that song became the second song on the record.”

“When we were making Director, we were not really interested in conventional song structures we wanted to make the songs sound like they were written in space,” Gat continues. And he’s got a good pedigree for that kind of composition: After Monotonix ended, Gat went to Columbia University to finish his undergrad degree in anthropology, and while he avoided taking any formal music instruction, he took a musicology course that let him build on musical influences that let him explore musical cultures from around Indonesia, China and Japan. (His guitar heroes include Pink Floyd’s original guitarist Syd Barrett, King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and free-jazz pioneer Sonny Sharrock.)

Director blends the group’s wild but tight improvisations with audio from other sources: “Boxwood” opens with recordings of Gat playing guitar at a radio station appearance, which is then blended with a drum solo recorded at a different studio.

The band’s prodigious playing habit has helped them bank a lot of material: Gat tells me they’ve got another two records ready to go, including one cut with famed producer Steve Albini in Chicago. But whatever their sound is, and wherever it’s emanating from you can be sure it won’t be held earthbound for long.