Mr. Scruff's breakbeat noodlings were some of the more playful and summery of the British trip-hop lot.
Ultra-clean production and an economic approach to sampling distinguished his music from spliff-tokers and bombasts alike. The authorial nickname of Manchester native Andy Carthy (his neatly trimmed beard being the source), Mr. Scruff attracted the buzz of DJs and critics alike with the 1995 Rob's Records release "Sea Mammal." A semi-veiled tribute to Boogie Down Productions' seminal "My Philosophy," it combined the dime-store aesthetic of a Luke Vibert or Howie B with more tempered, straight-ahead rhythms and subtle funk, soul, and electro references. The appearance soon after of The Frolic EP on Rob's subsidiary Pleasure Music -- which took the breezier, tea-room quotidian feel of his debut a few Sunday afternoon steps further -- turned buzz to blare for Carthy, and remix offers from the likes of DJ Food and Lamb flowed in. The year 1997 brought an EP, Large Pies, for noted Bristol label Cup of Tea, as well as Scruff's eponymous debut full-length. Keep It Unreal, his first Ninja Tune release, followed in 1999 and featured Roots Manuva on the track "JusJust." Around that time, Scruff also became known for all-night DJ sets that included everything from '60s and '70s soul-jazz and funk to scratchy old reggae and dub 45s, classic hip-hop, schmaltzy vocal pop, and new-school electronica. His releases during the 2000s, including Trouser Jazz (2002) and Ninja Tuna (2008), were more collaborative, with appearances from the likes of Seaming, Braintax, Alice Russell, and Kaidi Tatham (aka Agent K), among many others. EP releases scattered across the tail-end of the 2000s and the beginning of the 2010s led to 2014's Friendly Bacteria, on which he was joined by Matthew Halsall, Robert Owens, and Vanessa Freeman. The almost electro album featured a more minimal set of sounds with less samples and heavy bass. ~ Sean Cooper, Rovi