One for the breakdancers as well as appreciators of forward-thinking craft.
Adam Kennedy 2009-11-19
A master of skewing the hip hop artform for his own means, Boston-via-Brooklyn MC, DJ and producer Edan rarely travels the expected trajectory.
Nothing changes on this mixtape either, adding his warped take on the format and smashing conventions once again, after watermark 2002 album Primitive Plus and colourful 2005 follow-up Beauty and the Beat. One telling difference separates Edan from regular mixtape etiquette here: he cherry-picks choice cuts from US distributor Traffic’s back catalogue, umbrella home to a wealth of independent hip hop labels.
Augmenting existing tracks with original instrumentation and edits seals Echo Party’s uniqueness, gleefully chucking synths to kazoos into the mix to create hip hop closer to its purest Sugarhill Gang-era guise than latter day contortions.
Having previously shown his mixtape scope with 2004’s Sound of the Funky Drummer – collating songs sampling Funky Drummer by Edan’s favourite artist, James Brown – fewer recognition-triggering moments litter Echo Party. Indeed, programmed to run as a solitary 29-minute track, without the benefit of exhaustive sleeve notes, spotting every tune raided would prove a thankless, near-impossible mission.
The format renders descriptive opportunities awkward without resorting to time increments too, although the final five minutes are the exultant highlight, the home straight coinciding with Echo Party’s most fluid production blends.
Stuttering surround-sound beats give way to frenzied cries of “keep keepin’ on”, swiftly usurped by aforementioned kazoos and cut-up lines from obscure New York gem The Micstro by RC La Rock, subsequent computer game oscillations dissolving into gentle distortion.
And despite foregoing Edan’s wonderfully warped sense of humour on the mic – the only vocals arrive via samples – the appreciation for ‘golden age’ 1980s hip hop, grafted to an almost psychedelic vibe, broadly mirrors his artist output. This is, in essence, a production album over mere mixtape, one for the breakdancers, as well as appreciators of both forward-thinking and back-in-the-day craft.
The vinyl version of the record comes packaged in plain white sleeves hand-decorated by Edan himself, presenting a fitting final analogy: Echo Party takes an imaginative palette to a blank canvas with equal flair.