Broken Lamps creates a musical world of intrigue, paisley hallucinations, and tasteful grooves. It’s a psychedelic time machine that transports you to a smoke-filled lounge hidden along a cobble-stoned street in Florence. You take a Vespa through the Italian countryside, where composers like Morricone, Nicolai, Umiliani, and Cipriani pulled inspiration from for their most iconic work.
Eric Bowr, the man behind Broken Lamps, established his musical prowess last year with the debut Broken Lamps album Turn Signals. On that album, a bevy of vintage instrumentation came together(all performed by Bowr) to create a snapshot of classic 70s exploitation soundtracks and library music. It’s a stunning collection of tunes that Mario Bava would’ve happily used to class up something like Five Dolls for an August Moon or Lisa and the Devil.
Bowr has returned with Broken Lamps, and via Electric Nerve Music in association with Two Headed Dog presents the world with the funkier, groovier, and far more far out Kaleidoscope. Broken Lamps new album is a stunning display of not only Bowr’s instinctual moves in the world of library music and the world of Italian exploitation film music, but his absolute domination as a musician, composer, engineer, and curator of vintage vibes. Simply put, if you picked Kaleidoscope up in some secondhand shop amongst mildewed copies of Morricone and Nicolai scores, you’d think you came across a golden masterpiece lost to time.
This is how Electric Nerve describes Kaleidoscope,
Kaleidoscope is a modern library record conceived by producer/multi-instrumentalist Eric Bowr under the name Broken Lamps. It sets its stage between 1968 and 1979 with a heavy dose of fuzz guitars, monophonic synth, Hammond organ and lush string sections.
Things like early giallo, 70s exploitation and Euro cult soundtracks are also mentioned in the description of Broken Lamps new long player. I don’t claim to be an expert on library music, so on that end I’ll leave it to the more qualified listener. When I hear a track like opener “Strange Seasons” I imagine grainy film showing some European beauty walking along some picturesque, wooded trail at dusk. Something like Season of the Witch mixed with a touch of Euro B-movie graininess. Sometimes the most redeeming aspect of those Euro oddities from the late 60s and early 70s was the soundtracks. Bowr captures those late night feasts for the eyes perfectly in this song. Likewise, “The Serpent and the Sparrow” has an almost spy vs spy noir feel to it. If Sergio Leone hunkered down in 1971 and made a sci fi exploitation western that took place on Mars, then this could easily be the opening credit scene music. Bowr adds all the far out sounds you’d need, courtesy of those monophonic synths and the electric piano places the song firmly in the decade of decadence.
The moods are shaped perfectly as Kaleidoscope plays on; from the groovy drum and bass, fuzz guitar, and farfisa organ of “Halls of Time” to the chamber melancholy in the harpsichord-led “Catatonico”(complete with eerie theremin for good measure), to the all-out psychedelic freak out of “Room 411”, Eric Bowr makes Broken Lamps a veritable music house of all things groovy, cult-y, and all around absolutely engaging.
One of my favorite moments on Kaleidoscope is the completely groovy and alien “Vertigo”. It’s like Lalo Schifrin and Francesco De Masi gathered in San Francisco for a scoring of a Dirty Harry movie that never was. “Siegfried’s Atomic Cat” will also make you move uncontrollably in all the right ways.
Kaleidoscope continues to move in the direction of greatness that began with Turn Signals. Eric Bowr’s music project is an illuminating and mysterious world where the art of the film score collides with old school and old world music making. Broken Lamps turns library music into high art.
7.9 out of 10