The rapper/producer/DJ born Edan Portnoy has followed a singular path to cult semi-fame. An alumnus of Berklee College Of Music, Edan fell madly in love with hip-hop’s golden age, bringing ’88 back on his retro-minded 2002 debut, Primitive Plus. 2005’s Beauty And The Beat masterfully fused his complex rhyme schemes and vivid wordplay with late-’60s psychedelic rock. Now, the eccentric musical mastermind has returned with Echo Party, another giddy romp through hip-hop history that finds him remixing the catalog of old-school labels distributed by Traffic Entertainment, in the style of Madlib’s remix of the Blue Note catalog.
Edan once again recreates hip-hop’s past in his own image, radically reconfiguring the base elements of old-school rap—chant-along choruses, party-rocking rhymes, disco beats, harmonizing—through extensive studio trickery and live instrumentation. He plays everything from Moog to kazoo, but his favorite instrument remains the studio itself: Edan goes nuts with echo and backward effects without ever losing the beat. Echo Party doubles as an ’80s time capsule, too, with sound bites referencing everything from the Smurfs to the imminent threat of nuclear destruction. Of course, it would be nice if Edan’s first album in four years actually featured him rapping, but until he picks up the microphone again, Echo Party serves as a more-than-acceptable substitute for a proper Edan solo album.