ALBUM REVIEW: Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi – Rome

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Let’s face it, music sucks these days.

Gone are the times when artists used to craft their work using talented studio musicians. There are no David Axledrods, no Barry White Soul Orchestras, or Italian producers like Alessandro Alessandroni. They have been replaced by Fruity Loops and Ableton. Now you can create an album on your iPad. Technology is made music more accessible, but not better.

That’s why we flock to vintage Motown sounds (Think Amy, Raphael or Mayer) and buy vinyl. We cherish that classic sound, look, and the feel of music.

That’s what initially drew me to Dangermouse’s latest project, Rome. Collaborating with Italian composer Daniele Luppi, and Americans Jack White and Norah Jones, he creates a soundtrack to that famous Italian Spaghetti Western that never existed.

Rome combines Danger’s knack for production with Luppi’s lush orchestration. You can tell when one producer starts and the other ends. Danger tracks such as “Two Against Once” and “Black” feature the vocalists prominently (and I wish Norah would do more projects like this, instead of country), while Luppi takes over for songs such as “Theme of ‘Rome”. The icing on the cake? All of the instrumentation was played by some of the same artists that worked on the Spaghetti Western projects that this album tries to emulate.

The effect is that the album tells a story, and even though there is no movie attached to this, the theatre is in your mind. Yes, I know that’s a cliche (it sounds like something LeVar Burton would say on Reading Rainbow), but Dangermouse and Luppi create a vibrant story arc through the 15 tracks on this album. It may not be the most entertaining piece of work by today’s radio standards, but Rome is hands down one of the best projects to drop this year, if not the most ambitious.

4 out of 5