Cinematic beauty in new Danger Mouse album

“Rome,” the new album from prolific musician and producer Danger Mouse, is not really an album: it is more like a personal soundtrack for the listener.

Grammy Award-winner Brian Burton, also known by his stage name Danger Mouse, has produced hugely successful albums by Gnarls Barkley and Gorillaz. Now he has teamed with film composer and arranger Daniele Luppi to create “Rome,” a short musical story album. Burton enlisted the vocal talents of former White Stripes frontman Jack White and blues singer Norah Jones to complete the unique sound presented on “Rome.”

The album has been likened by Rolling Stone and other media as a “spaghetti western” and a tribute to Italian cinema: Burton and Luppi recorded the album in Rome, using many musicians who have worked with the likes of Oscar-nominated composer Ennio Morricone on film scores before.

But “Rome” is much more than just a film tribute: it is cinematic in every sense of the word. It acts as a personal soundtrack, and the listener can invent whatever plotline they want. One can get swept up in the music and invent a storyline to go along with the album.

“Rome” opens with the “Theme of Rome” featuring soprano Edda Dell’Orso . Dell’Orso’s vocals are sweeping, mysterious, and slightly unnerving against the guitar chords and drums. “Theme of Rome” begins the tale, inviting the listener to imagine whatever they please, be it a deserted ghost town or the deserted love life of a couple.

One stand out track is “Two Against One,” which blends White’s unique voice and guitar with a bluesy beat, is the most likely track to be a radio success. The track immediately grabs the listener’s attention and diverts the focus from their own daydreams to the self-hatred crooned by White.

Nine-time Grammy winner Jones has a powerful ballad in “Season’s Trees,” which is wistful and brings a powerful sense of nostalgia. Jones’ voice is as warm and delicate as ever.

Throughout the album, xylophone chimes and a whining electric keyboard are prominently featured, adding to the idea that this is a story with reoccurring themes throughout. “Rome” features several interludes and instrumental pieces that are both soothing and unsettling in their quiet. These musical pieces laced throughout the album often seem to move the “plot” of the album forward, and make the lyrical songs featuring White and Jones all the more satisfying.

One interesting online feature attached to the album is an interactive movie experience provided for Google Chrome users, in which fans can navigate through “3 Dreams of Black” – this really allows for a visual application in which the listener can choose the movie sequences. “3 Dreams of Black” can be seen through dangermousesite.com.

The album will undoubtedly be a powerful one for listeners who have a little imagination: someone looking for a coherent and lyrical collaboration will be disappointed. But if one is looking to create their own story through the music, “Rome” can be immensely enjoyed. Upon first listen, one might see a ruined romance movie playing in their head, starring White and Jones as the unhappy couple. On second listen, it might be a surreal film with a mysterious dream sequence.

Any scenario the listener decides, “Rome” accomplishes its unique task of being a cinema album: it is whatever the listener wants it to be.

Erin Bell can be reached at erin.bell@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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