The Bowling Green: Self Titled
DL | Stream
Available 25th November
Micko Westmoreland AKA The Bowling Green delves back into his archives and digs out some old tunes, dusts them off and returns after many years to delight us with an old project re-invented that still sounds relevant today. Wayne AF Carey listens…
Back in 1995/1996 I was going through a big electronica phase as were a minority of the Manchester scene. I was writing for the now defunct Metropolis magazine and my job was discovering new music which I still do today. I interviewed The Bowling Green just before Micko appeared in the film Velvet Goldmine and I knew there was something special about the guy. Fast forward into 2020 and he returns with a cracking album as Micko & The Mellotronics which our man Ged Babey reviewed here. Nigel Carr also got involved and got into the mind of the polymath when he interviewed him here. Micko explains why he’s returned to The Bowling Green after all these years and explains the whole process…
“6 of the 7 tracks were recorded together which is why I regard the Self-Titled release as a final ‘studio’ album. 3-D Hassle was a track that missed the cut for the second album Fabrications because I thought that it gave too dark a tone when sat with the other songs. This along with Déjà Vu were recorded with an Atari/Akai sampler set up, the rest signified the transition to Mac/Logic. At the time I was living in Ladbroke Grove which was a haven for all things second hand and as I was an avid collector it felt like home.
I still have something like 60 DATs full of car boot funk, collected audio of varying quality from all over the shop, so if I ever return to do more Bowling Green, there’s plenty to kick start me into action. At that time I made it my business to find and make peculiar audio In that regard I guess little has changed, even though I use more guitars now in my Mellotronics band but the same or very similar processes are in operation.
I found the dance community late 90s/post millenium in part, quiet serious, the Bowling Green was a reaction to that. I was interested in electronica because the technology was expanding so rapidly, that it seemed to have endless potential and possibilities. I’ve always had a recurring interest in Psychedelia and electronic music was the ticket at that time to explore the envelope for me. I’m proud of the Bowling Green work because those that ‘get it’ really do. It’s not for everybody which is, as it should be.
Although only released now, all but one track was recorded between 2002-2005 following from the second album release when I started to get into film scores with my film maker brother Wash Westmoreland (Colette/Still Alice). Most of it was mixed however many years later and have sat on this release so it wouldn’t interfere with Micko & The Mellotronics activities. I’ve billed it as the final ‘lost’ album but without wishing to sound like a James Bond reboot. Never say never hey..”
Opening track Disco Thong is a lovely bouncer with a 70s / 80s sound of floating effects backed by a funky breakbeat that flies along like a long lost dancefloor filler. There’s a lot going on and Micko certainly isn’t shy of twiddling his knobs. Déjà Vu flies in with more breakbeats and retro effects from his trusted Atari and Moogs to great effect yet again, harking back to the days of A Guy Called Gerald and the early pioneers of electro flecked drum n bass. Hey Baby is THE disco / house number that shies away from the breakbeats and goes all head nodding and on the spot acid house arm marching, filled with acid tinged psychedelia that squeezes the teat of The Funk to produce some wonder milk for the palate. A funky headspinner.
Micko goes breakbeat meets dancehall as he introduces us to a bit of reggae on toast with vocals from the late Tubby T on Live Wild West. Another bouncer that takes me back to early Dub Pistols with the wide range of sounds coming out of the speakers. Eery in parts as the psychedelia sneaks in with those 70s / 80s sound effects that sift in and out. Wonky is the mellowist track on here with it’s 70s G funk filled vibes slowing everything right down to a spliffed out afro feel and a cool bassline which chills you right out. Smooth as fuck. 3-D Hassle is a techno house hybrid that’s destined for the USA disco dancefloors with echoing vibes that takes you right back to those clubs that came out of Detroit and Chicago in those heady times, yet Micko sprinkles the whole thing with psychedelia, steel drums and warped effects which spiral around your headspace like futuristic disco spacedust. Closing track Mastermind is a wonky wobbler that flirts with trip hop and techno. An ode to the said show and the subject of The Sex Pistols that will have you trying to answer the questions whilst listening. Who else could plant a quiz into a fucking tune? Answer: The Bowling Green. He even flirts with a cheeky guitar solo towards the end just to wind you up!
A cracking release to see out the year that highlights the other side of Micko, from his early years experimenting with music that still resonates today and easily slots into our future listening tastes. Seven lost cuts that have been revived and outed to the public where they belong. If you’re looking for the sound of his Mellotronics look away. This is the sound of a musician evolving who has more than one deck of cards to fuck around with. A slice of early electro / house / psychedelia full of breakbeats for a refreshing change…
Words by Wayne Carey, Reviews Editor for Louder Than War. His author profile is here
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