Review : Danger Mouse - Rome (ft. Daniele Luppi)
PitchforkThe "soundtrack without a movie" album, an attempt to recreate the evocative sweep of a film score away from the screen, has a long and mostly ignoble history. The concept was flogged so hard in the 1990s, usually by dance producers desperate to break out of the club scene, that it was almost left for dead. It didn't help that most of these records were limp pastiches of old-school Hollywood orchestration that paled next to 99% of either actual film scores or real-deal pop albums.
All that bad product doesn't make the movie-less soundtrack a bad idea, of course. It's just that few of these projects have had the talent pool, or the commitment, to pull off a Rome. You can hear composer Daniele Luppi's love and respect for the brooding romanticism, fragile delicacy, and almost psychedelic spaceiness of classic Italian soundtracks in just about every note. In his partner Danger Mouse, he's found not only a similarly smitten collaborator, but a producer who's made a career out of accurately capturing the atmosphere of old records without (usually) coming off sterile. And they've got the moody vibe of those 60s soundtracks down on Rome, as much due to the vintage recording touches as to the Italian movie industry O.G.'s the duo drafted in to lend their hard-earned feel for this music.
But Rome isn't just about faithfully recreating a much-loved period in film history. It'd be a much more boring, if beautifully produced, record if it were. In addition to his work as a composer for film, Luppi's lent his talents as arranger and player to various pop acts, and Danger Mouse has spent much of his career using his crate-digger's ear to craft retro-minded albums that still work for a modern rock audience. Rome's real coup is that, despite its concept hook, you don't have to listen to it as if it were a potential film score. What the duo's made is a beguiling and true hybrid, halfway between pop album and soundtrack-minus-the-movie. If you've got no familiarity with the music Rome pays homage to, you can take comfort that much of it sounds, coincidentally, very similar to the gentle-but-dark 60s psych-pop Danger Mouse makes with Broken Bells, sans a singer. And while it's true that the bulk of the album is instrumental, more concerned with mood than hooks, it's sequenced masterfully, including a handful of well-placed (if purposefully subdued) songs....full text
GuardianInspired by 60s spaghetti western soundtracks and named after the city that wasn't built in a day, this album from star producer Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, and composer Daniele Luppi has taken an appropriately epic amount of time to complete. It was recorded over five years in a dusty Roman studio with ageing orchestras and analogue equipment. Solid vocal appearances from Jack White and Norah Jones remind us it's the 21st century, as does Burton's fastidious production style. His precision works against him here: the album lacks the eccentricities that enliven the music of Ennio Morricone, who casts a long shadow over this project....full text
SlantmagazineSome of Italy's most enduring musical figures have found overseas audiences by doing work for the silver screen. Ennio Morricone started out arranging jazz and pop songs before composing iconic scores for Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, while Giorgio Moroder followed his classic work with Donna Summer by winning Academy Awards for the soundtracks to Midnight Express and Top Gun. Considerably further from the mainstream, the Italian rock group Goblin developed a global cult following by appending their creepy, atmospheric prog to films like Dario Argento's Suspiria and George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Daniele Luppi's brilliant 2004 release, An Italian Story, paid tribute to these figures and many other classic Italian film composers in a wide-ranging and impeccably arranged debut. Rome, his new collaboration with Danger Mouse, takes on a narrower focus, working primarily as a celebration of Morricone's scores and secondarily as a collection of lavish chiaroscuro pop in the vein of Calexico's Feast of Wire.
The unlikely collaboration, which also features vocals from Norah Jones and Jack White, is evidently a labor of love, though occasionally one starts to suspect that Rome is little more than a souvenir from a recording process which was a good deal more fun than the record it ultimately produced. Gorgeous instrumentals like "Her Hollow Ways (Interlude)" were clearly constructed with due care to recapture the sound and overall atmosphere of their cinematic referents, which makes it all the more confusing when said instrumentals are inevitably consigned to such brief runtimes. Each of the album's interludes also recurs as a finished song (i.e. one with either Jones or White singing), though the fact that there are any repetitions on an album that's only 35 minutes long is a bit disconcerting. Generosity of material isn't a selling point for Rome, and sadly, neither is inventiveness: Luppi and Danger Mouse don't seem to have much beyond homage on their agenda, and their curatorial choices in strings, bells, and ghostly backing vocals can be annoyingly literal....full text
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