- The drum & bass producer Pessimist has released on some of the scene's finest labels, but a 12-inch on a Blackest Ever Black sub-label introduced him to listeners who might be unfamiliar with the style. Pessimist, like a growing number of his contemporaries, is turning to techno. While some of his fans may wish he'd stick to the faster stuff, there's no doubt he brings high-level production skills to 4/4 structures. Pagans, despite being aesthetically consistent, is a well-rounded four-tracker that shows multiple sides of a producer who seems to be hitting his stride.
The title track embodies Pessimist's signature sound. There are airy but tactile textures in the high-end, restrained yet surgical drums, mounds of bass and a fleet-footed groove. Even though he's used the template before, "Pagans" is still the 12-inch's most singular tune. "Astrous" is new territory for Pessimist, but it's a distinctly Bristolian take on dubby, syncopated techno that wouldn't be out of place on the city's Timedance or Dnuos Ytivil imprints. It's full of spacious yet claustrophobic details, but the complete product is surprisingly funky, especially thanks to an incisive rimshot.
"Inner Circle" could have techno fans cowering in the corner. Its ginormous, spring-loaded kicks are almost overpowering on a good system, recalling the "How'd he manage that?" effect of "Balaklava"'s shattering subs. "Mist" hints at what Pessimist might achieve with a more experimental sound. The track's melodic elements, best heard in the intro, have the isolated introspection of forgotten tapes from England's early '80s DIY underground. If given more space to stretch his penchant for affecting textures like those found on "Mist," Pessimist could succeed outside the realms of both drum & bass and techno.
B1 Inner Circle