Before the world of hip hop shrunk down to the size of a few websites, back when local radio stations were the trusted cultivators and keepers of regional sounds, New York City’s musical landscape was defined by two words: boom bap. That asphalt-hard sound stands in stark relief to the luxurious, glittering production that has dominated the airwaves in recent years, but New York’s original sound throws a long shadow and the specter of boom bap still lingers.
Kevin Palmer is channeling those ghosts on Exposure Therapy, a sonic seance that lets ambient, dub, and boom bap bleed into each other forming a complex meditation on the golden age of New York hip hop. That distant era has served as a source of endless inspiration for Palmer’s production under the moniker Best Available Technology, and this is his grime-caked love letter to the faded memory of a grittier New York sound.
Exposure Therapy is as expansive as it is intensely personal. Over the last three decades, Palmer has been experimenting with how to express a deep affection for a sound that was always thousands of miles away growing up, and this is his distinctive vision of that era. Palmer’s abiding love for a specific moment in New York’s musical history is also riven with a looming anxiousness, as if he’s unsure of how best to act as a conduit for a time he experienced by proxy. The physical distance and insecurity lend something unique to Exposure Therapy, sounding as if the high-pitched peal of graffiti-covered subway cars and the persistent din of traffic endemic to boom bap-era New York were beamed to another world.