We’re still here: Flexible dub electronics redefine proximity & visibility at the Quiet Time label’s Los Angeles debut

, 31 March 2020

A thick, red-stained haze seeps out from behind the DJ booth at Chewing Foil. Pulsing layers of afrobeat rhythms and harsh pseudo-industrial sounds swirl around, engulfing the audience into an appropriately post-apocalyptic dance floor. The dense air permeates a chain-link perimeter around the stage, obfuscating the performers and gear before eventually fading into the darkened corners of the room.

Pessimist at Chewing Foil, Los Angeles (2020). Courtesy Quiet Time, Los Angeles.

Quiet Time label is throwing their first party in Los Angeles. Following releases with  artists like Kareem Lotfy, Debit, and Tony or Tony, the previously New York-based label is celebrating their recent move to the Californian city with the presentation of headliner Pessimist. Performing on March 7, the Bristol-based producer is known for his nuanced fusion of techno, dub, and drum n bass. Perhaps it’s due to a retrospective COVID-induced clarity on what’s worth going out for, the unusually good sound in place of the venue’s otherwise ramshackle speaker system, or the solid lineup of supporting locals—the party atmosphere starkly contrasts the expected restless apathy of the Los Angeles after hours scene.

Motion Ward’s JS opens the evening with a dark storm of textures,where a thundering low-end provides a  base for the interjection of coarse tones that carry a melancholic optimism. LIL M, invigorates the dancefloor with an energetic cross-genre mix. Heavy sub bass and frenetic electro-infused jungle breaks blend into Mosca’s ecstatic 2011 UK garage track, ‘Bax’. Pessimist’s repetitive lines of darkly minimal DnB have the crowd locked in. Collective energy oscillates like cycles of an electrical current. Surging breaklines, sharp claps, and diving synths accumulate over a long-form techno structure, while detailed and intricate textures crest waves of smoke that swallow hoards of dancers in moments of close listening.

JS at Chewing Foil, Los Angeles (2020). Courtesy Quiet Time, Los Angeles.

Pessimist’s flexible techno industrialism disarms the crowd’s spatial orientation, abstracting the sonically distant and immediate, while substantiating a prophetic set up for social distancing. Bodies fade out of sight yet remain seemingly connected via the music in the air. Almost everybody stays until the end, savoring the space carved out by Pessimist’s dubb-y bass. The impending lockdown is around the corner. And even if we can’t see each other—there is a certain comfort in knowing that we somehow remain together.**

New York’s Quiet Time presented Pessimist, LIL M, and JS at Los Angeles’ Chewing Foil on March 7, 2020.