TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2011|
Posted by: Matt Howard
Creating a soundtrack without a film is like planning a trip without a map. According to Danger Mouse's latest, Rome, the film's score is redolently equivalent to its visual narrative. Often, you hear a song, and directly associate it to its service to a scene, and the duo of Danger Mouse and composer Daniele Luppi, utilize this sonic influence to emit the fragrance of the classic Italian, film movement, the Spaghetti Western.
Danger Mouse is known for his application of contemporary production on retro tunes. His Grey Album was a collaboration of instrumentation of the Beatles' White Album, with the acapellas of Jay-Z's The Black Album. In Rome, however, the utility of a particular classical work is absent, and it is replaced by the musical atmosphere used during the film movement. Luppi composed the "score" with instrument performances provided by musicians affiliated with Ennio Morricone, who scored Spaghetti Westerns; "A Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More", "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", and "Once Upon a Time in the West". For Rome, DM substitutes Clint Eastwood's growls with a vocal transaction between Jack White and Norah Jones, giving a modern audile kick.
The crooning contributors aren't the only current twist. Danger Mouse laced the Rome tracks with vibes of his recent producing endeavors. The album's fourth track, "Season's Trees", is unmistakably similar to his attributed work on Beck's glooming Modern Guilt. Above the orchestral score, Norah Jones matches Beck's monotone recital. There is an undeniable bluesy ambiance that is relative to DM's contributions on The Black Keys' Brothers. In "Two Against One", Jack White's emblematic whine looms above eerie chords and gentle taps.
Although Rome borrows dark, Western sonic cues, it cannot be pigeonholed in its entirety. The psychedelic atmosphere elicits senses of alternative film genres. It's quite possible that these films had also borrowed 60s score techniques, but Danger Mouse and Luppi's progressive attitudes assisted in differing relevancy. It's difficult to imagine Eastwood galloping to Jack White's cadence, and the surfy-Spanish guitar rhythm of "The World" would more appropriately cater to a Tarentino-styled massacre. Other tracks sonically resemble 60s melodies that were absent from the film genre. A threatening organ and surfy twang, reminiscent of retro rockers The Kinks, assists the Norah Jones-guided song, "Problem Queen".
Danger Mouse and Luppi's conceptual intentions were certainly achieved. With an introduction and three instrumental interludes, it's difficult to ignore the cinematic elements of Rome. Not only does it possess the progression of chapters, but the utilization of White and Jones' contrasting vocals provide loose characterization. The "soundtrack without a movie" is in many ways more concrete and delicate than simple film recordings. Visual narrative reinforcement is substituted with subconscious intricacies that require greater attentiveness. Escapism isn't limited to the a theater's darkness. All it takes is a little imagination to create a vivid portrait of Rome.