- Young Echo is a loose collective of Bristol producers that includes Vessel and Kahn, with an emphasis on the "loose" part. The group's members have a common hunger for borderless experimentalism, but that, and their unruly radio show, is the only thing they share—though they've existed for years, Nexus is their first actual release as Young Echo. Considering their individual personalities, from Kahn's fundamentalist dubstep to Zhou's meditative drones, it's hard to picture how they could all come together for a full-length. As its name implies, Nexus is where the group meets, but it's not a simple convergence. Instead, it's the uneasy centre of their already porous identities and projects, and ends up every bit the glorious mess it should be.
There's no telling exactly who does what on Nexus, a detail that places the bigger names on level ground with the lesser-knowns. A jerky jumble of clashing sounds, I'd call it kaleidoscopic if it weren't so determinedly dark. From trip-hop sorrow to dubstep dread, the underbelly of Bristol's musical history informs Nexus more than anything else, contributing to its somber outlook. If there's a dominant sound, it's the skip of garage—but this is the kind that drags its feet, like 2-step with a limp. Forlorn vocals echo years of downtrodden West Country music, like the flagging grime of "Voices On The Water" or the haunting "My Child My Chain."
Nexus does bear the individual marks of its makers, and some fingerprints are easy enough to pick out here and there. The sickly bleeps of "Crowd Sacred" and "Untitled No. 7" resemble the fractured techno of Vessel's stellar Order Of Noise LP. "Blood Sugar" retains the mercurial feel of Kahn's poppier dubstep tunes, fluid and chrome-shiny all at once. There's something strange and unfamiliar about each and every track—like how the vocal on the title cut sounds like it's accidentally leaking in from some other song—and all of these ideas are held together by a lurking malaise, which lends the album an unsettling and even creepy air.
Nexus is the kind of LP where a trad dubstep track ("Umoja") can drop in towards the end and not feel the least bit out of place, and one that begins and ends with six minutes of horror movie drone without ever growing tedious. Mesmerizing, perplexing and sometimes spooky, it requires diligence above all else. But somehow, even with so many artists involved, it never feels like too many cooks in the kitchen. In fact, that's just part of its charm.
01. Radial Sheaves
02. Jupiter Rise
03. Voices On The Water
04. Crowd Sacred
05. Blood Sugar
06. Earth & Dust (Version)
07. Untitled No. 7
10. My Child, My Chain
12. Slow Jam
13. Eternities, Never / Ephemeral, Sometimes