Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi – “Rome”

Brian Burton first surfaced under the moniker Danger Mouse in 2004 with The Grey Album, his mash-up of The Beatles’ White and Jay-Z’s Black albums. He followed that up by forming Gnarls Barkley with Cee Lo Green, and their debut single Crazy went, as they say, global. But like the dog and a certain part of its anatomy, the only reason he but briefly indulged in that kind of wallet stroking was because he could.

Since then, he has instead gone about producing some of the most quietly impressive albums of the last five years or so. First up was Demon Days, the second and best Gorillaz album. Then there was Beck’s Modern Guilt, and The Black Keys’ fifth album Attack and Release, plus the hit single Tighten Up from their next and best album, Brothers. And any day now he’ll be steering the latest U2 album into view.

But the most substantial of the many projects he’s been involved with was Dark Night Of The Soul, his collaboration with David Lynch and Sparklehorse, aka Mark Linkous, who sadly committed suicide in 2010. Despite a bewildering array of guest vocalists, ranging from Wayne Coyne, Black Francis and Iggy Pop to Nina Persson and Suzanne Vega, the music and lyrics that DM and Linkous glue the album together with give it an austere yet intimately inviting aura, making it a painful testament to the latter’s short-lived but sumptuous talents http://dnots.com/.

If Dark Night Of The Soul is the musical equivalent of Bergman, Rome is pure Sergio Leone. Listening to tracks like Theme Of Rome (1), Roman Blue (6) and The Gambling Priest (8) it’s impossible not to feel yourself shuffling warily in on your horse as you arrive at a dust-laden, deadbeat town on the outskirts of Andalucia, circa 1968, watched in a haze of suspicion by its few inhabitants, before leaving again to the tune of Morning Fog (12).

The five years that the album was in the making seem entirely appropriate given the languid cinematic dreamscape that the album evokes. And the choice of Jack White and Norah Jones as guest vocalists does nothing to dispel the sense that the whole thing was recorded on vinyl, by retro heads in vintage threads. Which is only as it should be, as they’re backed by the Cantori Moderni choir, the musicians originally responsible for realizing Ennio Morricone’s score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Luppi and DM succeeded in reassembling them at the Forum Studios in Rome, hence the name, feel and mood of the album.

When you discover that long-forgotten bottle of beer at the back of your fridge in the small hours of a lazy, hazy summer’s morning, this is the soundtrack you’ll be reaching for as you go in search of the matches.



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