We've been in the throes of archive mania for so long that when a musician who's only just come to our attention is already diving into the vault, we hardly bat an eye. Portland's Kevin Palmer has been making his own brand of Casio- and loop-pedal-fueled dubs for a while now, but has only recently made his presence known as Best Available Technology with releases on well-regarded labels like Further Records and Opal Tapes. Most recently, Astro:Dynamics has compiled Best Available Technology juvenilia into Excavated Tapes: 1992–1999. Now, Palmer is shoring up the distance between the polish of his Further Tracks cassette from early this year and those early, mildewy four-track experiments. The Bangers & Ash series on New York's Styles upon Styles label is the perfect platform for prolonging our chronological confusion, as the sub-label asks artists to lead with experimental efforts on the a-side and leave the club-ready tracks for the flip.
It's clear from BASH004's first three tracks that the process of dipping back into those boxes of old material has shaped Palmer's approach here. Further Tracks' weirdness sounds totally anodyne next to the first side of this 12", which nods like a junkie backpacker. Moments of coherence are interspersed with glimpses into the void, not completely unpleasantly. "Bulldozer Rituals" is a blunt opener, centered around an unsteadily ambling hip-hop break and Palmer's DIY dub flourishes. It blossoms into full-on broken beat on the awkwardly intimate "Vulgar Geometry," which feels like walking in on DJ Premier having a gruesome asthma attack. For someone who clearly loves hip-hop, Best Available Technology is weirdly antagonistic toward it here—or maybe he's just been cutting his Madlib with doses of Madteo. The torpor is obliquely relaxing, though, and this quality extends to the so-called "bangers." Palmer seemingly can't resist exploring a spectrum of delay-pedal settings over the course of any given track, and he makes no exception on the kick-driven anomalies "Contrecoup" and "Time Tunnels." Dub is Best Available Technology's natural medium—but his is a very scrappy take, more akin to King Tubby than Deepchord. Palmer relishes tweaking the space between the walloping, mid-heavy kicks of "Tide Tunnels" more than sculpting it in a top-down fashion. The results are often lumpy, especially compared with the streamlined Further Tracks, although there are flashes of immediacy here that find Palmer more vivid than he's ever been before. At the same time, these five tracks take longer to digest than Palmer's Further or Opal releases, but BASH004 finds Best Available Technology fitfully giving us an idea of who he really is.