If you ever saw the mighty Monotonix, you certainly remember Yonatan Gat, the electrifying guitarist who would hold court onstage as singer and seeming circus performer Ami Shalev danced on the ceiling and glided over the crowd. Since that mighty Israeli institution ended, Gat earned a degree in ethnomusicology and applied it to Universalists, one of the year’s most shocking and spirited albums. Gat bounds between intoxicating collaborations with a Native American drum-and-voice band and West African invocations, between shimmering post-rock epics and quick hits that combine electronic cuts with swerving Carnatic melodies. Using the field recordings of Alan Lomax as his starting point, Gat delivers Universalists as an unapologetic answer to an era of pervasive nationalism, a send-up of jingoism that celebrates what we can become from what we have already been. “It’s beyond lightning in a bottle,” Spin raves about this pan-everything vision of rock ’n’ roll. “Gat has lightning wrapped around his little finger.”
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