Published Jun 30, 2014It's been five years since Andy Carthy (a.k.a. Mr. Scruff) dropped a full-length studio effort, and though the cover art that graces Friendly Bacteria is his trademark idiosyncratic squiggles, all comparisons to Scruff's past offerings end there. Eschewing the elaborate production and quirky humour synonymous with the Manchester based-DJ/producer/artist/tea enthusiast, Scruff says that Bacteria is his sparsest sounding release to date.
"I think it's just a general development," Scruff tells Exclaim! "I think with all of my music, to me, I always veered on the side of putting a bit too much in; some of my arrangements were possibly a bit too long and were a bit too busy. So I thought, for this one, 'Let's try and trim it a bit and be a bit bolder with the elements.' There's a lot of beats, and on first listen, there was a lot less going on than previous releases, so it was more of a personally disciplined approach."
As for the half-decade interval between 2009's Ninja Tuna and Bacteria Carthy notes, "I think I was doing a bit too much gigging, since I really enjoy DJing. I also had a daughter three years ago, and I think having the whole family thing [meant that] I spent less time in the studio, because there were now other priorities. But Ninja Tune as always been very cool as for letting me work at my own pace."
Friendly Bacteria also features collaborations with vocalists Denis Jones (who appears on four tracks), Vanessa Freeman and Robert Owens.
"With Robert, I heard the tune and I immediately heard his voice. I got in touch with him and he said 'I'd love to sing on the track.' Vanessa Freeman, we'd been friends for about 15 years and we'd talked about doing something for a long time. With Denis Jones, it was a bit more cerebral, because we live close together and we'd work on our music every week. I stopped tailoring stuff to him because I have no idea how he's going to respond. I think he comes from a very different place even though we have a lot of similar influences.
"I can't really place him, which I really like. I can send him something I think is a house tune and he'd turn it into something completely different. I think one of the things that shaped the sounds on the album a lot was the collaborations with Denis."
Friendly Bacteria is out now on Ninja Tune.