Review: Pessimist – Self-Titled

Having burst into the fore with last year’s stellar Balaklava, Bristol experimentalist Pessimist has further developed his fusion of jungle and techno with his self-titled debut full length on Blackest Ever Black.

Whilst the synergy of techno and drum and bass has always been an incredibly winning formula as far as rave-centric free party vibes go (see Mandidextrous’ championing of jungletek), Pessimist achieves a well-rounded synergy of the two genres in his far more experimental, but just as movable approach to this synergy.

The release straddles a wide variety of genres, fusing Bad Company-esque dnb punctuated by dub techno atmospherics, filtered through the abrasive soundscaping of British Murder Boys, all rolling along at a minimalist snail’s pace. It’s through this that Pessimist creates a distinctly British identity for his debut – fusing a plethora of disparate, but definitively UK-centric sounds into his production, creating a quintessentially British sound for himself through the understated innovation of Pessimist‘s darkened reverberations.

Whilst the release isn’t necessarily centred around filling the dancefloor, tracks such as the foreboding stepping of ‘Spirals’, the complex movability of the acid-jungletek of ‘Peter Hitchens’, and the ragga-jungle-in-no-mans-land of closer ‘Through the Fog’ provide an engrossing fusion of the rhythmic atonality of techno and the pounding syncopation of drum and bass. Whilst the album’s rhythmic and structural features are straightforward in comparison to the arrhythmic soundscapes so prevalent in today’s avant-garde club scene – the album’s innovation thrives through understated percussive complexity.

The other thing that makes the release so interesting is the almost OST-esque sound design prevalent throughout the release. It’s this that enables the album to function as a whole, filling the gaps between the releases already impressive mastery of drum n bass/techno synergy with the foreboding spirit of UK techno’s darker corners, and allowing the album’s disparate rhythmic movements to flow effortlessly into one another.

Whilst techno and dnb have been uncomfortable bedfellows for some time, devotees of either genre will swiftly be ingratiated with Pessimist’s effortless fusion of the two, whilst at the same time, devotees of dissonant, atmospheres will be just as much at home. ‘Pessimist’ is a deeply rewarding listen – the album’s OST-esque exercises in slowly rolling jungle, accentuated by the rhythmic influence and sound design of fat monotonic dub techno results in an intriguing listen.

Just as much for devotees of experimental rhythmic dissonance as it is for mkat crazed bassheads ‘Pessimist’ is an enthralling experience that will reward repeated listens.

Pessimist is out now on Blackest Ever Black, get your copy here

Words: Richard Lowe 

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