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Young Echo Young Echo Young Echo Sound

The 11-strong Bristol collective confidently mash up hip-hop, noise and dub on this emotive second album. Over 24 tracks, there are no qualms about delicate poetry sharing space with wall-shaking distortion – you just need to throw yourself into this unpredictable world. “Come dance with me,” comes the unsettling invitation early on; “In dying dancehalls, in drunken, last-dance light, hold close, we can hold one another tight.”

Sometimes subdued and at other times cacophonous, Young Echo’s DIY ethos could be compared to earlier Bristol groups, like Massive Attack precursor the Wild Bunch, or perhaps more appropriately, Mark Stewart’s radical post-punk outfit the Pop Group. But in terms of sonic similes beyond the solo work of producer-members Vessel, Jabu, Ishan Sound, Ossia, Kahn and Neek, try a blend of Kode9 + The Spaceape’s dubbed, sci-fi grime, Vatican Shadow’s ominous onslaughts and the cold-staring, funky creep of Clipse and the Neptunes, with hints of Burial’s night-wandering melancholy.

Short bursts of expressionist rhythm, synth and sample are alternated with fully formed songs. There are voices on most tracks, with duties shared by Young Echo’s five vocalists. Jasmine sometimes leads us into crystalline pop chambers; Rider Shafique sends mystical decrees from a rumbling war machine of a beat. Manonmars’ delivery on the languid, minimalist grime of Red Dot, Green Light, MC leaves you speechless, striking feelings of profound danger and soul. On tracks like Untitled, Wolfe, Oran and Home, vocalists Bogues and chester giles create something more direct than the abstract, generalised emotion you often hear in electronic music. The lyrics dive deep into personal reflections on struggle and interaction.

Young Echo’s live performances are notorious for their chaotic, even ruthless approach. This aesthetic brutality is palpable in the scraping metallic percussion of Psychology of Destructive Cult Leaders, or in Oh, Won’t You, where the very transmission of the signal seems to stutter and fail under the force of the rhythmic impact. The closing track Wicked Ones frazzles jungle beats into an inferno of heat and pressure, a suffocating, squashing of thought that ultimately results in meditation.

This is undoubtedly a big album, from a whole gang of people expressing a range of emotion. With such a multitude of talents smudging together, it’s bewildering to try and unpick the parts. But in this way Young Echo reveal the power of solidarity and collectivism. They express, through multiplicity, some of the contradictions of love and fear, with a pronounced streak of tension and subversion that could be said to define Bristol’s music culture, or human nature itself. Young Echo‘s vivid stories surge proudly through a desolate and disaffected world.