In the world of independent hip-hop, artists either trailblaze like Quasimoto and El-P or salute their forebears like Blackalicious and Jurassic 5. Japanese breaks maestro DJ Krush is a curious exception to the rule; he seems virtually unaffected by trends yet encompasses many of them in his productions, and offers something different with virtually each release. Similar to lauded underground labels from Def Jux to Big Dada, The Message at the Depth is underground rap for the digital age, far removed from the moldy crates and dusty beats of Krush's Mo' Wax classic Strictly Turntablized. His beats are digital, heavily resampled and quantized, splintering off like drum'n'bass patterns but possessing a depth and clarity not seen since the heyday of Massive Attack. And with far fewer collaborations here than on his last record, Zen, there's more room to hear Krush at his best. A pair of instrumentals, the dark breaks symphonies "Sanity Requiem" and "The Blackhole," fare much better than the high-profile vocal features for Antipop Consortium and Anticon, which add surprisingly little to the proceedings. Anticon's collaboration, the stoner nightmare "Song for John Walker," is a sub-Cannibal Ox performance; even DJ Krush can't put together a production to make them sound relevant. The best rapping comes from Japanese MC Inden, who gets his point across on "Toki No Tabiji (Journey of Time)" without needing to resort to English. "But the World Moves On" is the only track to look back to the same grooves heard on Zen, with bassist D-Madness and alto Masato Nakamura helping Krush conjure a dark Asiatic vibe.
AllMusic Review by John Bush