Danger Mouse Danger MouseRome
Rome wasn’t built in a day. A saying perfect for the much awaited album by Danger Mouse in collaboration with Daniele Luppi, composer of contemporary soundtracks for films such as “Nine”, “Bajo El Sol De La Toscana” and even some tunes for “Sex & The City”. Well, Brian Burton and the Italian artist took five years to make the soundtrack of what could be a 21st century spaghetti western. In other words, if the duo would have worked a little bit faster, the Coen brothers could have used the 15 tracks for “True Grit”. “Rome” is a soundtrack without a film, but not without references: it’s inspired on old Italian cinema in the purest Cinecittà style. Ennio Morricone is all over the album, but other greats like Bruno Nicolai, Piero Piccioni and Piero Umiliani are there as well, all of them composers Danger Mouse adores. The result is curious and contains some good songs, but let it be clear that it could never be the heir of “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly".
The most curious thing about the album, apart from the fact it recovers some of the best moments of soundtrack music –which is quite something to begin with–, lies in who’s behind the voices. Jack White sings on a few tracks alongside Norah Jones, who’s in charge of the female parts. To the former White Stripe’s favour, it has to be said that his tracks shine on their own, in comparison to Norah’s somewhat more mediocre ones. The best example is “Two Against One”, the most atypical song on the album, as only the intro sounds like a duel in the far west. Another example of Jack no longer needing Meg to strut his stuff is “Rose With A Broken Neck”. Norah, on the other hand, stands out on “Black”, a track which –like “Her Hollow Ways” and “The Gambling Priest”– reminds us of Serge Gainsbourg at his best.
This is, however, not a record full of banjos or chilling whistles in the broad sense of the word. Although there are echoes of dusty spaghetti western drums: the first song, “Theme Of Rome”, sounds very contemporary. And it’s no less moving because of it, but it does stand out from the retro rest of the album. The artists haven’t forgotten about the essence of a work of this nature, which are the interludes – “Morning Fog”, “Her Hollow Ways” and “The World”–, which are placed perfectly, as if to distinguish the different sequences of a would-be western, although sometimes it seems like the notes are coming from a music box driven by a lively dancer and not from a demented saloon. Tracks like “Tha Matador Has Fallen” and “The World” go by inadvertently, though they don’t bother, either, and they do give that modern spaghetti western air they seek. The album isn’t addictive nor infallible. However, it is pleasant to listen to and as an experiment, it passes the exam.