Danger Mouse has done a lot of things over the course of his career, but Rome, his new album released yesterday with composer Daniele Luppi, may be one of his best projects.
As a producer, Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton), has received accolades for his work with artists like the Gorillaz and Beck. As a musician, he's had hits with eclectic hip-hop/pop duo Gnarls Barkley, which he formed with Cee-Lo Green. But Danger Mouse's role on Rome is solely that of co-writer, co-composer, and co-producer. He doesn't play any instruments on the album. The entire record is an homage to the music of spaghetti westerns, using many of the same musicians who played on original movie scores by Ennio Morricone. And it's amazing in its sonic scope, utilizing the talents of stars like Jack White and Norah Jones to take these tracks to another level.
There's an old adage that "Rome wasn't built in a day." The album
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has reportedly been six years in the making, but flows like it was recorded in a day. Orchestrated tracks like "Theme of 'Rome'" flow seamlessly into dreamy, low-key psychedelic tracks like "The Rose with a Broken Neck" (featuring winsome guest vocals from Jack White), while poppier soft rock songs like "Season's Trees" (featuring some silky singing by Norah Jones) segue into symphonically sparse interludes like "Her Hollow Ways."
Other standout tracks include "The Matador Has Fallen," an organ-driven ditty that sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a scene of somebody riding a slow-trotting horse through a desert; "Black," an acoustic folk-rock number featuring another great vocal by Jones; and the final track, "The World," which most closely resembles a song out of an old Western, with its echoing slide guitars and tubular bells.
Perhaps what's so striking (and impressive) about Rome is that it's full of cinematic songs that are not tied to any particular film. So not only does each track stand on its own, but the listener is left with the freedom to visualize whatever they want, and in essence, create a movie in their minds.