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Mr. Scruff - Trouser Jazz

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Artist: Mr. Scruff

Album: Trouser Jazz

Label: Ninja Tune

Review date: Jan. 9, 2003

Regression Session

What the hell is wrong with you, you neurotic, joyless, poorly dressed junkie wannabe? Did you simply forget how to have fun? Did you ever learn? It isn’t that hard. Lots of people manage to reap great amounts of pleasure from drugs, sex, negligible amounts of cash, wisdom, foolishness and all the rest of it without fretting about the consequences. Fretting about the consequences is the most fearsome punishment on the books.

So perhaps it’s time to reinstall some cherry in those cheeks. But it’s not going to happen all at once. You’ve got to play standards before you play jazz. Or you could take the most infantile aspects of jazz – those unbeholden to the conventions that jazz initially got press for overthrowing – and go about salvaging souls. Any kid digs that sort of jazz.

That’s where Mr. Scruff comes in. Trouser Jazz is the ideal ad hoc genre for those of you that can’t dance because they won’t dance, those of you that need to purge a lot of poisonous shit from your guts before you can actually get high. Rubbery. Rudimentary. Happy. Harmless. Steeped in a childlike appreciation for rhythm and patterns. And entirely responsive to – and supportive of – whatever mildly blissful proclivities might be left in your bleached-out soul. Bitch all you like about bloated CD price tags. A lot of you friars cough up 100 frogskins an hour for this sort of treatment.

The adorable anthropoid coffee beans on the cover clue you in. “Sweet Smoke” puts you at ease like awkward oral sex from someone sweet and trustworthy. “Beyond” sets up a loopy scenario about some friendly aliens. “Come Alive” takes you back to the days when you thought a reciprocated crush could solve all your problems. And you realize a reciprocated crush could still be as sweet as your first Icee Pop, if you could solve your own goddamn problems.

There are layers of complexity here, but those seeking complexity are better off elsewhere. If Trouser Jazz gets dirty – and it gets mildly dirty on the absurdly funky “Ug” – it’s the kind of dirt you’re, at this juncture, too retarded to mind.

A higher stratum of causal laws we’ll never comprehend governs all that we are. Including our illusion of free will, which we maintain because it’s necessary, on an hour-by-hour basis, for us to get anything done. If you gravitate to Mr. Scruff’s nursery school funk, it’s obviously for your own good. And if you hate it – if you actually HATE this – you really must be an asshole. If you’re doing all right either way, Trouser Jazz is perfectly unobtrusive. If “unobtrusive” means “creepy” to you, you’re on your own. In a sense.

By Emerson Dameron

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