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Music tends to break into cliques and niches. Whether you're talking about metal, classical or jazz, sub-genres proliferate, creating barriers between styles that are often arbitrary at best. Dance music takes this to extremes. Its genres and scenes splinter and divide, developing their own languages and cultures. Despite their genetic likeness, they often become isolated islands whose inhabitants are largely content to remain among their own kind.
Kristian Jabs is an exception to this rule. He's in Berlin to play a set as Pessimist at a Blackest Ever Black night, along with other sonic anomalies Silvia Kastel and Ossia. That's hours away, however, and we're repeatedly breaking off our interview for cigarettes and off-the-record chit-chat. There's a tinge of celebration in the air. It might be that the Bristol native is enjoying the charm of the dilapidated Kreuzberg bar we're in. But it could be because he took a risk that's starting to pay off.
While the safe course of action for a dance music artist is to stay in your lane, Jabs has developed a penchant for drawing outside the lines. To follow his sound, he risked disconnection from an audience, promoters and labels. But what he stood to lose in infrastructural support he made up for with a lingua franca that reaches further than his mother tongue, drum & bass, ever could.
Jabs recently released an album on Blackest Ever Black, highlighting his potentially broader appeal. Label founder Kiran Sande puts him on a lofty pedestal. "It is hard to think of a producer since T++ that has so radically, and successfully, reinvented/deconstructed the jungle-techno relationship," he says. "In fact, Pessimist makes drum & bass work as techno."Best Pessimist Songs of All Time