Thursday, December 09, 2021

Ava Mendoza - New Spells (Relative Pitch/Astral Spirits, 2021)

Sounding like a wonderful combination of Sonny Sharrock's Guitar LP filtered through LeNoise era Neil Young, Ava Menddoza's solo electric guitar album New Spells feels like a statement record, hanging out her star in the guitar firmament for all to see and follow. "Sun Gun" opens the album probing with some grinding sounds before developing a thorny motif. Slashing choppy sounds and quick flourishes are sharp and potent, picking up to a scalding fast improvisation, with ripe chords creating a very exciting sound environment. Perhaps a nod to Albert Ayler, "New Ghosts" has a massive Link Wray like opening of brute force noise, then the performance becomes much more complex with ascending and descending lines, weaving several disparate ideas together into a coherent whole that is a wall of shimmering electronic noise, creating a disorienting fun house of sound in the best way possible. "Ampulex Compresa" has urgent alarm sounding guitar right that sets the stage for a fast and active sounding performance. Mendoza's guitar tone is dark and angular, cutting through the space around it like some kind of industrial saw. "Apart From" has a bent tone, like there are aspects of deep blues are creeping into the music, giving it an emotional edge, turning the theme into a deeper well of feeling. Her music can go from having a dark sinister edge to an angelic sweep in the blink of an eye, such is her command of the instrument. The final two tracks nail down the approach that she takes on this album and what makes it so interesting. "Apart From" and "Don't Look" allow Mendoza to stretch out and move dynamically on her instrument, weaving textures and structures and experimenting with the consistency of substantive or abstract approaches to sound, either being equally viable. The lockdown to 2020 caused many musicians to pause and take stock, and Mendoza sees these performances as a portal to the post everything world. Bracing and unpredictable, the music on this album is a call to action to cast off fear and move forward into the future. New Spells - Bandcamp

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