Mr. Scruff 

Trouser Jazz

One of the most annoying and misleading things in the DJ world is the "experimental" moniker, which lumps those who make a career out of being clever (Ooooh! He just mixed Guns N' Roses with Grand Master Flash!) with those who truly innovate. So it would be easy to dismiss Manchester wonder boy Mr. Scruff for his cutesy protozoa-like cartoons or his fascination with '70s-era children's TV shows if it weren't for the fact that his music, a catchy blend of off-kilter hip-hop, acid jazz, '70s funk, and broken beat, can rock the dance floor and make a record geek smile knowingly at the same time.

Actually, his latest effort, Trouser Jazz, is less experimental than it is a musical glimpse into the manic and improvisational mind of Scruff, who's able to temper his vinyl junkie urge to drop rare groove samples with that of a practiced club jock who knows how to get his audience to shake it. You might detect a little disco keyboard or a James Brown funk in any given cut, but Trouser Jazz reshuffles these themes in an order purely its own.

Scruff's live DJ sets are famously all over the place, and he constantly pulls the rug out from under his audience before they get too settled into one kind of groove. But while Trouser Jazz reflects his short attention span behind the decks, the record never feels skittish or abrasive. There's a warm goofiness that runs throughout, and nearly every cut is anchored by a funky bass line or the kind of house party beats you could bump in your living room. Scruff throws a lot of curve balls and a few of them miss, but he always manages to win you back with the next track. There's something exhilarating about not knowing where you're going, but knowing that it's gonna be good.


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