Guitarist Ava Mendoza has played with just about everyone on the avant-jazz and out-rock scenes over the last decade or so. Her trio, Unnatural Ways, has two albums out—a self-titled debut on New Atlantis, and We Aliens, released in August on Tzadik. Note that, between those two releases, the band’s lineup shifted completely. Mendoza moved from Oakland to Brooklyn, so the first incarnation of the group, featuring keyboardist Dominique Leone and drummer Nick Tamburro, dissolved; the current version of Unnatural Ways features bassist Tim Dahl and drummer Sam Ospovat.
Mendoza, bassist Maxime Petit, and drummer Will Guthrie have a four-track 7″ out on the French label BeCoq Records. It was recorded in October 2014, and contains four untitled tracks of power trio freakout, adding up to just about 12 minutes of skronky, clattering jams that have elements of postpunk, garage rock, and Sonny Sharrock-esque noise-fusion. Mendoza describes the tracks as “Short written pieces that we improvise on. We try to milk as much out of a little written material as possible. When we improvise we focus a lot on loop gestures, trying to repeat and overlap with each other in interesting ways so it’s not just linear playing.”
As with so many projects in this semi-underground jazz/rock/noise/fusion not-a-genre, the project came together quickly…but over the course of several years. Mendoza recalls, “Will Guthrie and I met in 2010 at the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria. We dug each other’s playing and liked hanging out, and after that we kept in the back of our minds that we’d like to do a project together, though we weren’t sure what exactly. Will mentioned a bass player he liked named Maxime Petit. I’d never heard him but was really impressed by his name.
“Four years later in 2014, I was coming to Europe in the summer to play the Moers Festival with my band Unnatural Ways, and Will and I decided it was finally time to make the Mendoza/Petit/Guthrie trio happen. We lined up two small festival gigs in Lyon and Poitiers, and those were our first times playing together. We liked it so much that when I was back in Europe in October we lined up three more gigs in Nantes, Tours and Stadtgarten in Cologne, and did a recording session right afterward, which produced this album.”
Stream/buy it on Bandcamp: