With his ice-cold debut album Pessimist delivers a defining work which to us represents the culmination of nearly a decade of collective research and development in underground drum’n’bass. It is hard to think of any producer, past or present, who has so skilfully and successfully bridged the sonics and sensibilities of d’n’b and techno.
In fact Pessimist makes drum ‘n bass work as techno: combining the monotone, infinite-horizon quality of the latter with the rhythmic swerve and soundsystem heft of the former.
The perfectly formed ‘Balaklava’ 12” for BEB’s A14 sub-label in 2016 was his first work to attract serious attention outside of d’n’b circles, but the young Bristol producer’s singular aesthetic had been honed across important records for the likes of Samurai and Ingredients, and as a member of the Ruffhouse crew, and since then the experimentation has continued across releases and remixes for UVB-76, Osiris Music and Ilian Tape.
Cutting edge techno-dnb hybrids form the backbone of this, his first LP, but there’s more to it than that. Out of its relentlessly noir, paranoid, smoked-out dubscape emerge fierce, Babylon-shall-fall jungle tear-outs (‘Through The Fog’); zoned, acidic rave (‘Peter Hitchens’); downtempo breakbeat excursions (‘Glued’); sleek and rude ‘Balaklava’-esque steppers (‘Spirals'); and passages of bleak, bombed-out industrial ambience.
At times it feels like the missing link between British Murder Boys and Source Direct, or what might have happened if late 90s UK junglists had listened more closely to Chain Reaction. But really, it sounds like Pessimist and Pessimist alone.
The ruthless minimalism, and the tension which comes of that restraint; the swing and propulsion of the drum programming; the abyssal reverbs and long trails of delay; the deep and body-numbing sub-bass; the uncompromising palette of blacks and blues.
5. Glued ft. Loop Faction
6. War Cry
7. Peter Hitchens
8. No Matter What ft. Overlook
9. Through The Fog