Portland-based Kevin Palmer returns to blundar with his Best Available Technology for another release (having previously been featured on cassette). This time it’s on vinyl but still messing about with the same business of constructing and deconstructing head-nodding beats into a foggy bowl of ambience that has become the trademark sound of BAT.
Initially inspired and influenced by the sound-worlds created by Hank Shocklee, BDP and KDAY, Palmer spent his formative years combing pawn shops for samplers. This kicked off his self-described obsessive compulsive work crunching out impossibly naive and obviously unschooled jams in what might have been and continues to be an attempt to capture and document something he felt when listening to the bombastic sonic collages of early hip hop.
Going backwards in order to go forward could be an apt mantra to describe the philosophy behind BAT. Often attached with labels like nostalgia and melancholy, Palmer surely deals with the longing for that perfect time capsule of N.Y. hip hop in the 90s - but where others zoning in on that era simply imitate it, Palmer goes way further into a world of his own making.
Far removed in both time and place to the outskirts of Portland, the sonics of Palmer filters through an outsider’s perspective, sometimes offering a personal journal of the here and now via field recordings from skateparks and surfing trips.
As if one would imagine looking slightly to the left of what was supposedly going on, these tracks continuously shift one's focus. That funky feel good beat is there, but almost always just out of grasp. Palmer gives us the sound of a memory slipping away.
Yet this reads not as the end of something, but rather a stepping stone into a world of possibilities. Operating at the outskirts of genre, you could imagine anything from dub, hip hop, ambient or techno to emerge and crystalize from the haze, yet it never does. This is all those things and nothing. Or maybe it’s just some “sad fucked up funk” as Palmer puts it.