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Friendly Bacteria (Ninja Tune)
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.
Many producers of his era lost the plot when trends shifted away from flipping sample loops, but Carthy’s done a good job keeping the warmth by pairing live instrumentation with electronic textures. The vocal collaborations work especially well and give much of the album left-field soul. Too bad that so many of the instrumental tracks are pleasant but forgettable downtempo jams that dilute the impact of the highlights.
Top track: Stereo Breath (feat. Denis Jones)