What's Your Limit is a new semi-regular feature on ABS on a subject near and dear to my heart: vinyl. Not only that, but cassettes, CD-Rs, 7" singles and any manner of free jazz/avant-improv pressed to minuscule amounts, turning well-meaning music nerds into a disgusting frenzy of Paypal-trigger-happy fiends and, later on, furious online-bidding warriors. It's not only a world I consume, but one that I participate in, so forgive me if once in a while, some artist I've released on my record label turns up here. But, rest assured, you won't see any of my label's output here due to conflicts of interest.
Jailbreak, The Rocker LP (Family Vineyard)
There's a part of me that really wanted Jailbreak to be an all-out deconstruction of Thin Lizzy's kick-ass record of the same name. Just imagine it: "The Boys Are Back In Town" rear-ended by a dump truck full of Borbetomagus records. (Hey, it could happen.) Actually, Donald Miller (Borbetomagus) isn't a bad way to think about Heather Leigh Murray, except replace that guitar with a tirade of pedal steel distortion. Murray kicks out the grime like none other on the instrument, mercilessly sliding and pounding much the same way Sonny Sharrock tore apart his guitar like a saxophone. Her sparring partner is Chris Corsano, the young drummer who spends much of his time with saxophonist Paul Flaherty, but has worked with Bjork as well. His lightning-fast torrent barrels the duo forward, and should you watch the intense Jailbreak performance below (and you should), he makes it all seem so effortless. Completely relentless and forever dialed red, The Rocker's noise-improv would be tiring if it weren't so damn fun. Limited pressing of 700 copies on black vinyl.
Bird Show Band, Bird Show Band LP (Amish)
I try not to be wary of arty psych-pop kids going jazz, but I should give Ben Vida more credit. He cut his teeth with Town and Country, a Chicago fake-jazz band with serious chops. (And by fake-jazz, I mean avant-jazz-inclined indie-rockers.) As Bird Show, Vida's gone in a number of directions, all enjoyable, especially the wide-ranging psychedelia of Lightning Ghost. Now adding "Band" to the moniker, it's a collaborative effort with Chicago's A-list rock and jazz players. Vida's whacked Moog Voyager noodlings are the focal point, zonked on synth patches — it's like Cluster started a funky kraut-jazz band. But while the synth freakouts are fun, the heavy lifting comes from bassist Josh Abrams and Tortoise's drum section, the perfect punctuation to Vida's electronic squeals and knob twists. Limited pressing of 300 copies on black vinyl, 200 more to come. (This is also available as a CD/digital download.)
"Quintet One," from Bird Show Band, Bird Show Band (Amish). Ben Vida, Moog Voyager; Josh Abrams, bass; Jim Baker, ARP 2600; Dan Bitney, drums; John Herndon, drums.
Nmperign w/ Jake Meginsky, Selected Occasions of Handsome Deceit One-Sided LP (Rel)
While playing Nmperign's collaboration with percussionist Jake Meginsky (x.o.4), it took a couple listens at 33 1/3 before I saw the note on the minimal packaging that said the record needed 11 3/4 more revolutions. Some of my favorite records play well at both speeds (and if I happen to have the right turntable, some are downright demonic at 16), so I'm going to review Selected Occasions at both speeds. 33: A gurgling spread of trumpet (Greg Kelley) and soprano sax (Bhob Rainey) squeaks molded out of untangible textures and Meginsky's anything-but-percussive percussion. 45: Busy, unpredictable free-improvisation from a duo whose chemistry could coax shimmering terror out of a feather boa. When Meginsky does strike something resembling a cymbal, it's a shock to a system, disrupting yet inspiring pulsed breathing and piercing anti-note flutters. Limited pressing of 300 copies on 140-gram black vinyl.
"(Excerpt)," from Nmperign with Jake Meginsky, Selected Occasions of Handsome Deceit (Rel). Greg Kelley, trumpet; Bhob Rainey, soprano saxophone; Jake Meginsky, percussion.
Postscript: You probably won't find these albums on iTunes or Amazon. You're better off hitting the record label's site first, and if it's sold out there, I'll try to provide alternate links to online stores.