The Bristol based music collective Young Echo Sound brought an eclectic mix of experimental electronica to The Island, with the sounds of two Bristol based artists, John Bence and Anina and excitingly Inga Copeland – the London based musician famous for her collaborations with Dean Blunt.
Consisting of 11 members, Young Echo Sound are a group of artists that embrace a wide variety of genres and never restrict themselves to one sound. Be it their eclectic club nights or their own music (have a listen to the likes of Jabu, Neek, Kahn, Vessel and more). The Young Echo crew seem set on pushing the boundaries of contemporary music and this showcase only added to their collection of exciting musical endeavours.
Upon descending the stairs into The Island, Bristol’s exhibition and live music venue, audience members were treated to a rare live set from Bristol’s own John Bence. The young musician compiled what sounded like medieval plain song and drone creating a haunting atmosphere. Dressed in what appeared to be a priest’s gown, Bence took listeners deep into the underworld with discordant harmony and wholly unnerving drone that rattled the bones of everyone in the room. Bence proceeded to take to the floor moving and swaying, sometimes shrieking, to his own music. The scene was likable to that of a filmic satanic ritual, leaving audience members both perplexed and amazed.
Having been brought up in a background deeply embedded in classical music, the influence was evident. Areas that would appear atonal slowly progressed into moments of clarity and harmonic bliss; beams of light in the darkness. The classical influence is also crystal clear on Bence’s last release: Disquiet, a 3-part suite released on Nicolas Jaar’s ‘Other People’ label in 2015 when Bence was only 19. A much easier listen than Friday’s performance, Disquiet combines angelic choral vocals, synth drones and a cello to create an enriching bass.
The artist’s fusion of classical composition with electronic music is further evidence of Bristol’s consistent creative output that allows no boundaries to restrict it. After a truly unique performance; I can’t wait to see what Bence has in store for us next.
On the topic of boundary pushing musicians, Inga Copeland is no exception. Originally from Russia, via Estonia before being based in London, Copeland made a name for herself in collaborations with the elusive Dean Blunt. Realising they had similar artistic interests, the two went on to form the duo named ‘Hype Williams’, a satire on the megabucks music video director of the same name. Now an individual artist in her own right, having had releases on Hyperdub records, it was an exciting prospect to see what she had been up to creatively in her set that consisted of nothing more than 3 Pioneer CDJ’s, a loop pedal and a microphone.
It began with abstract and sparse beats that poked holes in the norms of hip-hop and techno that broke the immense tension created by John Bence. Copeland’s effortless vocals fitted as seamlessly as her mixing atop her experimental soundscapes. Any hint towards a sound that brought about an urge to dance, was quickly retracted and driven toward a new abstract direction. It was impossible to predict what she would do next as she deconstructed traditional ‘dance’ music to suit her own artistic desire. This was reinforced through one of her more notable lyrics that asked listeners to, “assist the death of dance music, with dance music”, that were ironically introduced just as the set veered towards allowing everyone to move their bodies with elements of breaks and experimental techno.
Finally, Bristol based DJ Anina graced the decks with impeccable selection ranging from jungle to disco and techno (and many more). Her record bag clearly boasted a wide spectrum of genres that she mixed with ease before the venue closed at 3 o’clock.
Summarised as “too weird for the floor galore”, by Young Echo Sound themselves on the Facebook event, (a fitting title for the night) there is no doubt that Young Echo Sound will continue to curate some of the finest experimental music in the Bristol scene and beyond. I’m sure the next line up will not cease to astound everyone.