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Techno Schizopolis

The Bowling Green
One Pound Note
(Nothing/Blue Planet)

Like Autechre, Squarepusher and several other groups, The Bowling Green is a group that was originally released on the other side of the Atlantic, but was bought up and given more exposure on this side of the ocean by Nothing Records (Trent Reznors label). Like Plug's Drum And Bass For Papa before it, One Pound Note was released on the smaller label Blue Planet before finding its way here. While having some elements in common with Luke Viberts alter-ego drum and bass lounge headtrip, The Bowling Green also manages to take off in several other directions over the course of the album, sometimes making for an interesting listen, while other times sounding somewhat distracting. Part of the reason for this might have something to do with Micko Westmorelands (the main guy behind the group) odd background of scoring gay porn films before moving on to act in 1999s Velvet Goldmine.

The first track "Urksome melody" starts out with sort of a sleazy, lo-fi swagger that sounds like it could have come from aforementioned gay porn soundtrack if it weren't for the funky beat and slowly building shimmering washes that are laid down over it all. Of course, that building goes somewhere, and the album rips into full gear on the second track called, "Think What You're Doing." The frenetic, drum and bass track features some goofy gadget sound effects and an overblown vocal sample from someplace or another. Not only that, but the "chorus" of the track has a nice backup horn section that gives an extra boost (but makes the entire thing sound even more genre jumping). It's a mess, but a pretty fun one. Things find their place a little more in the third track "Light From A Distant Sun," and it works a lot better. Instead of throwing every possible sound into the mix possible, the track has a more cohesive groove, and it ends up being one of the best tracks on the release. Moving at a steady mid-tempo pace, the track has some nice little chimes to move it along, as well as some squiggly sounds and theremin-sounding chorus parts. The quirk actually works, though.

After a sound-bite filler track, the disc goes into even a more laid-back groove with "Astrakhan." With almost a bit of Latin flavor, the track is a bit of a strange follow-up to the earlier goings-on, but then again, the album is all over the place. A lot of electronic albums seem to have their spy-themes and although it isn't explicitly labeled as such, "Meanwhile Gardens" wouldn't feel out-of-place in most secret agent films with its dark bassline and rippin' breakbeat. After the mid-tempo "Strange," the album takes off again nicely with the upright bass and timpani sounds of "The Road Is A Grey Ribbon." Like the above mentioned track, it sounds like it could very well be another track to go along with a high-tech thriller of a movie with its odd little electronic glitch sounds and "the timer is going to expire soon" beeps.

That movie score atmosphere carries over into a lot of the tracks on One Pound Note, and given Westmorelands acting and music career thusfar, it should come as no surprise. While some of the songs aren't as innovative as others (and some of them simply try to do too many different things over the course of one track), there are a lot of interesting things going on. If he can manage to hone in on a sound a little more in the future, he'll definitely be someone to watch.

Rating: 6.75