Review : Edan - Echo Party
PitchforkFor a dude who's been pegged as an old-school throwback, Edan's had this odd habit of turning hip-hop chronology into some kind of broken kaleidoscope. Just listen to the congealing synthesizers on "'83 Wildin" or the absinthe jazz piano of "Ultra '88 (Tribute)" from 2002's Primitive Plus and try to figure out just how they might've played in their real-world titular years-- not to mention 2005's Beauty and the Beat, which took its Bomb Squad-in-Beatles-wigs premise to a bewildering, psychedelic extreme. The fact that Edan's only rarely managed to create anything as memorable since then-- indeed, much of anything at all-- has remained one of underground rap's more nagging absences. And his first major undertaking in four years turning out to be a 29-minute mix might feel like more of a stopgap than the long-anticipated follow-up that fans have almost given up waiting for.
Except that Echo Party is, as stopgaps go, completely deranged. Traffic Entertainment Group got the idea to set a mostly idle Edan loose on their old-school hip-hop archives for the purposes of creating a mix, and some two years' worth of mysterious alchemy later, the end result is, for good and bad, one of the weirder attempts to revamp the concept of an early-80s hip-hop tribute. It starts out conventionally enough-- a recognizable post-disco clap-break with some familiar vintage rockin'-it-shockin'-it lyricism, albeit sourced from a 12" with more crackle than a burning sheet of bubble wrap. Then a creaky sounding piece of vintage electronics comes squeaking in like some kind of robotic slide whistle, the introductory break gets backspun into a sort of hissing slurp-beat, and things just go more haywire from there.
Not to say that Echo Party isn't well-constructed. The mix does a surprisingly good job of maintaining a tight, steady momentum for most of its length, and there's more than its fair share of percussive breakdowns-- sourced from hip-hop, funk, disco, and go-go rhythms-- that prove Edan's ear is just as finely tuned to a great straight-up beat-drop as it is to the psychotropic inner-space quirks that've been his calling card. And it's not purely obscurantist thanks to appearances by the fondly remembered Mr. Magic and Spyder-D. But it does seem to draw from some of the odder corners of the epoch: "Rapper's Delight" basslines gone filthy, session-band noodling, raps about ditching this doomed planet for a life in outer space. And there are almost no moments where an MC's line is left unmolested-- lines get flipped and reversed, chopped up into haywire-synapse stammers, and tossed down into dubbed-out concrete bunkers so their voices can justify the mix's name....full text
BbcA 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....full text
HiphopdxEdan is crazy; not in some “danger to society” sense, but more like a frenetically funky musical madman who gleefully remains untethered to any genre or style. The Maryland native does sonic insanity, and most of the time it manages to sound remarkably balanced.
His latest, Echo Party, is a deejay’s dream: a 29-minute, non-stop, mostly seamless mix of Funk breaks and obscure instrumentation wrapped neatly between dusty grooves. Think of an anxious Madlib stumbling upon the Original Jazzy Jay’s monstrous vinyl collection. It feels like Edan locked himself in a makeshift studio filled to the gills with dilapidated crates (of records licensed by Traffic Entertainment) and equipment, determined to come out only after scoring Wild Style in his own unique fashion.
Now, whether he succeeds is of course subjective – some might happily be blown away by this work, while others could be alienated by its pace and eccentric tendencies. But two things are irrefutable: the entertainment quality and Edan’s go-hard-or-go-home effort.
From Primitive Plus all the way to 2005’s Beauty & the Beat, Edan’s offerings have been marked by maximizing samples and instruments, and an ear for Golden Era ingenuity (see: Beauty’s Percee P-laced “Torture Chamber” for one example). And Echo Party feeds into that mindset, albeit with sparse vocal presence....full text
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