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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