I'm not saying it's jazz, and I ain't saying it's not, but this is one curious album. If you're interested in the latest developments in the "Jazztronica" shoot off the jazz tree (or modern music-making in general) then DJ Krush must be reckoned with. Play this recording next to recent albums by Matthew Shipp, Dave Douglas, Herbie Hancock, Guillermo E. Brown, or Brad Mehldauplus older ones by The Grassy Knoll, Greg Osby, or Ron Milesand the similarities with jazz become more noticeable. The soundscapes and sensibilities of the turntable have fully arrived in the jazz camp. And why not? The music presented on The Message at the Depth
is eclectic, driving, and all messed up with improvisation.
This album is important because it exemplifies a new strain of improvisation. This music is a direct descendant of the '60s electronic music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, and John Cage... although filtered through decades of pop, hip-hop, and reagge musics. It's also the love child of early '70s electric groups led by Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock... the rhythms are very different, but the voodoo still gets run down. This new strain of improvisation deals more with colors and textures, overlaying than with chordal or melodic variation within a piece. This is not to say there isn't melodic improvisation, but it's just not the emphasis of the music.
As the man said... the medium is the message. The depth and range of thoughts and feelings here is not easily accessible through other mediums, and that may be part of the reason modern jazz artists are gravitating towards this new strain of improvisation.
On the emotional level, there is a swagger to this album. It's got an attitude and rumble in the beats that drives the music along without overpowering the other elements (colors, textures, raps, melodies). There is so much variation in the tonal qualities of the beats that the drive of the rhythm and the textures created by the tonal variations become inseparable... a unified whole. Although the album has a consistent drive throughout, a wide range of moods are expressed and explored by Krush and associates. Each person brought into the mix (whether electronic, traditional instrument, or vocal) sheds a different light on things.
The jazz medium was founded and has flourished on the awareness and assimilation of a riot of cultural and musical propositions. The Message at the Depth is one hefty slice of culture and music. Visit Krush and check his vibe.
Personnel: DJ Krush-music,
D-Madness-bass, programmed drums, violin,
Masato Nakamuro-alto sax, flute,