Review of We Aliens by Unnatural Ways, Tzadik, 2016
There is a band of aliens that stirs Tzadik’s headquarters in New York. Or maybe it’s just a New York’s band in its natural element. The obi accompanying each disc produced by the independent record label of John Zorn uses the words “A lynchpin of the Oakland rock / improv scene and now based in Brooklyn, Ava Mendoza Has Been taking Downtown NY by storm, performing with many of the best musicians around and leading her own bands dynamite. “
“Dynamite bands”, perfect, defining more than apt, because Unnatural Ways is the main project of the guitarist of Brooklyn Ava Mendoza. Actually, the band was formed in 2012 in its original city Oakland, California, with the other two west coast musicians Dominique Leone (keyboards) and Nick Tamburro (drums). The trio moved to New York in 2013, changing the formation to the current trio that we hear on this CD, which provides Ava Mendoza on guitar / vocals, Tim Dahl on bass and Sam Ospovat on drums.
This We Aliens comes out significantly for the Spotlight Series, by Tzadik dedicated to “new bands and musical projects featuring some of the most adventurous young musicians around”, this CD is characterized by a very personal sound; sharp, heavy … maybe psychedelic. One could talk about a form of direct, dark and complex at the same avant rock contaminated by other forms such as free improvisation, an urban and warped blues, neurotic punk shrapnel, a tense, nervous, powerful music with a really, really massive and genuinely exciting sound.
You could listen to this record in loop , the beginning and the end are two clear sound cuts, as two abrupt awakenings in a fast-paced, hectic and elegantly wild stream of sound. A really great job honoring the musical technical skills of the musicians, don’t be fooled by an easy and approximate listening: the apparent harshness of their notes hides an elaborate and elegant …. musical journey, an excellent technique and a remarkable creativity, several well mixed post-modernist quotations. Great band, great music. Great, great Ava Mendoza, one of the most exciting guitars now on the scene, he deserves so much.
1. Cosmic Border Cop
2. Tinfoil Hats
3. Most of All We Love to Spy
4. Surveillance Superstar
5. Blowback Blues
6. Extraterrestrial Suicides Are on the Rise
7. Control of the Outmost Colonies
8. Is This a Refuge