Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. This time we’re rating the recent effort from experimental rocker Yonatan Gat.

The Music:

One time member of Israeli garage rockers Monotonix, Yonatan Gat released his debut solo LP back in 2015, and the recently released ‘Universalists’ is that album’s follow-up and his sophomore effort as a solo act. A hugely experimental, abstract collage of found-sound, out-and-out noise and warped surf rock, Gat’s latest is a dizzying collection. There’re few things that Gat and his band don’t try over the course of the LP – to the point where it’s perhaps easier to list off the genres he doesn’t tackle than the ones he does. The abrasive sonics certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste but, then again, when has interesting art ever been aimed at the mass market?

The Pressing:

Another release from the reliably engaging Joyful Noise Recordings, consumers have a few options when it comes to picking up ‘Universalists’ on wax. We are looking at the white/cream vinyl version but there’re also a couple of other colours to choose from. As with most if not all of the label’s other releases, this LP is pressed at the Czech Republic’s GZ Media and, as usual, they’ve done an admirable job here. Those familiar with the pressing plant’s output will likely know them as one of the best European vinyl factories, and this is another quality release from them. Out copy was a little warped straight out of the shrinkwrap but not dramatically so and certainly nowhere near enough to make sound and playback in any way affected. The record is very clean indeed; we heard barely a stray crackle throughout the whole thing and even the run-ins and deadwax ran through very quietly indeed. We’ve said the same thing about a few other recent Joyful Noise Records but it bears repeating here; the quality of playback is strong enough that it stands as one of the cleanest, highest quality pressings in the price bracket that we’ve heard in a good while. We would go so far as to say that the majority of similarly priced modern records bear some degree of audible surface noise, even if it is subtle – while we wouldn’t call this or any other record flawless, it must be said that this pressing is very clean indeed and has less imperfections than most similarly priced releases. A big thumbs up from us, that’s for sure.

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The Packaging:

The album comes packaged in an attractive, good quality gatefold sleeve. The spine is nice and chunky and looks great. Colours are equally impressive, with nice saturation across the front and back covers. The minimal art direction is strikingly memorable and the artist and album names appear on a small hype sticker rather than the sleeve itself, which we think is a cool touch. The barcode likewise appears on a sticker – a real blessing, as one printed directly onto the sleeve would be heavily detrimental to the impact of the cover art – and such touches suggest a degree of consideration has gone into the presentation which far from all labels can lay claim to. One small gripe is the fact that the record is sleeved into a generic, non-polyined white inner, which is quite unusual for Joyful Noise as their releases often either come in a printed card inner or a polylined sleeve. While we would advise removing the record from the sleeve with care, it’s no more than a small fly in the ointment. A download is also included to satisfy any digital audio desires.

Final Thoughts:

Yonatan Gat’s ‘Universalists’ is nothing if not completely off-the-wall and out-on-a-limb. The album’s heady mishmash of styles is enough of a trip just on its own that those with an adventurous ear should at least give it a try and the Joyful Noise vinyl pressing is a great way to do just that.

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