JEFF CARPENTER is underwhelmed by the ‘wonderful man’ that is Mr Scruff.
16th October 10.00pm at The Junction, Cambridge. £10
There are two extremes in the spectrum of dance music creation. On one side, you have the man in Cindies who plays tracks you could find on YouTube (and frequently does), then cross-fades them so you don’t hear a gap. On the other, there are those producers and musicians who combine pre-recorded and live tracks to create a brand new piece of music. Mr Scruff is one of those magical rarities you find slap bang in the middle.
Mr Scruff’s knowledge and love of music is enormous and so is his vinyl collection – he never stops going to flea markets and picking up anything he can possibly get his ears on. He then takes painstakingly picked samples, combines them with his own loops, structures them all brilliantly, creating something profoundly musical. The results have landed him success in the advertising industry, and a place on nearly every ‘Big Chill’ compilation. But on Saturday you would not have heard the Mr Scruff we know and love.
As we walked into The Junction fashionably late, there was a queue only of three people, which alarmed me. Looking around at the dim, office lighting and dirty walls I began to wonder if I was in the right place. Inside there were only a few townies wandering around with various drinks, lit up by boring white and red lights and some sort of dull industrial music thumping through dingy speakers. So I and my hot date for the evening decided to get a drink and hold on for a bit, pretty anxious about the dire circumstances we were finding ourselves in.
After a while, we walked up to a bouncer and asked ‘Do you know what time Mr Scruff starts?’ to which he replied: ‘It has started.’ My heart sank. We walked up to the pitifully empty dance floor to stare up at a bald little man with a moustache, moving like a grandad at a wedding.
Slowly, The Junction began to fill up and a Mr Scruff message displayed on the screens, ‘Good Evening Cambridge’. Oh good, I thought, maybe things will get going. Sadly, the music remained repetitive, dull and industrial, at the same volume from the useless, bass-heavy speakers, at home in a college bop. Occasionally we were graced with a sample or two, but these were so few, so mindlessly repetitive, and so randomly combined that it was hard to believe that Scruff himself was behind it.
In fairness, the evening allowed me a chance to ‘get my groove on’, to the embarrassment of all those around me and the screens flashing his now legendary animated characters playing flutes and hitting pans were a highlight, but I was so excited to see this wonderful man live, and ultimately, only very disappointed.