Release Date: May 20, 2014
Record label: Ninja Tune
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Ambient Techno, Funky Breaks
Narrowing up the sound spectrum and cutting down on the clutter, Manchester native Andy Carthy, aka Mr. Scruff, is a leaner, meaner kind of funky on his 2014 effort Friendly Bacteria, an album that sits well with Cameo's Word Up!, George Clinton's Computer Games, and early Mr. Oizo releases. The twerpy, funky, nighttime bassline of the opening "Stereo Breath" sets the tone with vocalist Denis Jones making the first of his four contributions, all of them lazy, melancholic, and perfectly suited to Scruff's stony type of soul.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Greater Manchester's very own Andy Carthy, aka Mr. Scruff, has always been a bit of a puckish figure in the world of dance music, keeping the Madchester mischievousness alive in the post-Hacienda years. His first major release, 1999's Keep It Unreal was packed full of playful, cheeky little moments, from the Mary Anne Hobbs intro 'Is He Ready...', to the samples of Sir David Attenborough and David Bellamy on album closer 'Fish'.
Sometimes less is indeed more, and that's a notion that Andy Carthy (a.k.a. Mr. Scruff) seems to have taken to heart on his fifth album. Eschewing the abundant orchestration and quirky humour synonymous with previous releases like 1999's Keep It Unreal or 2008's Ninja Tuna (no fish or aquatic references this time around), Friendly Bacteria is Scruff's sparsest, grittiest, most digestible offering to date.
Veteran Manchester DJ/producer Mr. Scruff (aka Andy Carthy) is known for his wildly eclectic DJ sets and the massive success of his 1999 hit Get A Move On, but his albums have been a touch inconsistent and often stray into the goofy. So it was a promising sign when word spread that his fifth would feature no silly tunes about fish and focus on tighter songs that rely less on samples.
According to a note that comes with the album, Friendly Bacteria is basically the sound of Mr. Scruff growing up. Gone is his curiously quirky and sample-happy approach. In its place, we're told, is proper craft and solid structures. While that might have been the aim, the reality is an album that ….
It’s been six years since Mr Scruff last put together a new album. In the intervening years he’s grown older and wiser, and no doubt seen the cut-and-paste electronic landscape he helped shape back in 1997 change almost beyond recognition. Scruff himself has certainly come back a changed man. Don’t panic - the beats are still present in full, but Friendly Bacteria sees Scruff ease back on the cartoonish loops of old and develop an ear for songwriting backed up remarkably well, primarily by the singing talents of Denis Jones and a couple of other guests.