You hit play on Broken Lamp’s debut Turn Signals and you’re instantly transported to some alternate universe. A universe where every person you meet seems to be hiding something, every woman is alluring but dangerous, and people can still smoke unfiltered Lucky Strikes on commercial flights from Milan to New York City. At every turn you could meet your fate at the hands of a psychotic killer, ancient witchcraft, or a hot and alluring(but dangerous) model named Bibi you met at a Milan discotheque the night before. Broken Lamps taps into the late 60s and early 70s world of Giallo films and smoke-filled French coffeehouses with a blend of jazzy drums, buzzy synth, and electric piano with psychedelic flourishes. Turn Signals is a breezy shot of secondhand grooves and eerie vibes.
Broken Lamps is the work of multi-instrumentalist Eric Bowr. The music is described on the band’s website as “Original library music inspired by cult cinema and rare film soundtracks of the 60s and 70s.” I’d say that sums up the vibe of this record perfectly. I like this bit even more. It’s a description of how the album came together. “Turn Signals is a compilation of experiments written and recorded by Eric Bowr in the fall of 2015. The title depicts a sense of awakening to ones presence in a flawed society suggesting self transformation.” That last part about self transformation really makes sense while getting lost on Turn Signals. Library music in and of itself is different bits of musical identity created for the sole purpose of being used in film and TV where they are needed. These tracks have a feeling of scoring various moods and scenes.
Take a track like opener “Anamnesis”. I could hear this opening some early 70s Mario Bava film about murder, mayhem, and buxom brunettes. It’s fiendishly groovy and with Bowr’s use of real instruments, as opposed to the one man synth operation, the song breathes and expands like a living creature. “The Next Left” continues that Italian vibe, but with more movement and absolutely exquisite production by Bowr himself. It’s obvious Bowr is a student of those macabre films of the 60s and 70s. Both Gothic and classicist, the sonic world we’re led into is very nostalgic, but never gimmicky.
Elsewhere, “Cat’s Eye” feels like a drive thru the French countryside with the top down and Catherine Deneuve in the passenger seat. “CXLIV” goes full Goblin with a very Dawn of the Dead vibe. “Absent” is a beautiful piano interlude, while “Gallows” is a melancholy acoustic number with a “spaghetti western in space” feel to it.
Broken Lamps’ Turn Signals is a moody musical appetizer filled with eerie vibes, colorful musical moods, and enough musical nods that will allow you to put together one hell of a film in your head as you’re listening. “Turn Signals is the story of a life held hostage with death as the final release.” Death is indeed the final release. Or you can hit play again on Turn Signals, resurrect, and live to listen to Broken Lamps another day.