"There's no way of avoiding the process of selection, " says the sampled voice on ...estuary's first track. In The Highlife Movement, the selections are made by the mysterious DJ 'D, who, judging from this record, must be a very thoughtful, intelligent, and stoned person. Though ...estuary fits within the broadest definition of hip-hop, this isn't party music whatsoever, but more a soundtrack for late-night contemplation. Musically, it leans heavily to the trip-hop side, built on a foundation of slow, intricate beats and loaded with flutes, strings, bells, and other aural ornamentation. The production is full and precise without being slick; the liner notes proclaim, "all tracks done 4-track, SP-1200, and dirty mic style." Lyrically, ...estuary is philosophical and emphatically non-gangsta.
Numerous guest rappers contribute to ...estuary, including such recognizable names as Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, and Mikah 9, and the samples are culled from such diverse sources as Jodie Foster, E.L.O., Mike Tyson, and Howard Zinn. This could have caused it to feel disjointed, but you always sense a guiding intelligence behind The Highlife Movement, a unity of vision. Clocking in at an economical 31:59 and reasonably priced, ...estuary offers an experience that's consistently pleasing to both the ear and the cerebral cortex.