Album Review – Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – “Rome”

13 May

Ever since a friend played me a bootleg of Danger Mouse’s Grey Album back in 2005-ish I’ve been fascinated (and at times completely besotted) with the music that this guy churns out and the projects that he’s involved with. From his work with Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley to the incomparable Dark Night of the Soul Sparklehorse/David Lynch ensemble piece, he has never failed to deliver. Even when I heard he was working with U2 it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm, and I hate U2. Really hate them.

So what do we have here?

Well here we have Danger Mouse in terrific form in collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi, who it seems has managed to draft in the original musicians from many of those famous old Morricone soundtracks.

With titles like “The Gambling Priest” and “The Matador Has Fallen” it really feels like it ought to be a film score. Close your eyes and sit back and you can imagine a narrative playing out right there in front of you. Jack White’s vocals are the perfect accompaniment to the jingly jangly glockenspiel, immaculate finger picked guitar and beautifully arranged strings. Norah Jones doesn’t quite hit Jack’s “otherworldliness” as I saw it described elsewhere, but she really doesn’t let the side down as you worry she might. Jack’s work is stellar. He carries a genuinely unnerving paranoid dread through personal favourite “Two Against One” that is as creepy as creepy comes.

The bass guitar is brought to the fore wonderfully in wandering instrumental “Roman Blue”, “Morning Fog” returns to an earlier interlude, then all of a sudden it’s over before it’s begun. Nothing on there is longer than 3½mins long, and it just drifts by so easily. My only criticism is that it did leave me wanting more. You’ll find yourself hitting repeat the moment it finishes. But thankfully it all gets so much more delicious with each listen.

No, it doesn’t have the seamless depth of Dark Night of the Soul, or the cool-factor of the Grey Album, or the mind-bogglingly brilliant Cee-Lo vocals, but  I always say that something should be judged against what it tries to be and not what it doesn’t. By that criteria this is really a first class piece of business by all concerned, and yet another example of why Danger Mouse is considered by many to be streets ahead of most other producers working out there today.

And who knows, maybe he can even drag something decent out of U2. A guy can dream, right?

Edited to add that you can stream the whole album in a ‘try before you buy’ sense on the Guardian website: LINKY

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