Rome – The Genius Producer You Don’t Know You Love | Krazed Music
So what do Cee-Lo Green, MF Doom, The Gorillaz, Jay-Z, Jack White and Norah Jones have in common? They’re all very successful musicians, right? But what you may not know is that all of them have experienced some of the heights of their success through the input and work of one musician/DJ/producer: Danger Mouse. You have probably seen him, but may not have realised. He’s that other guy in the Gnarls Barkley videos, standing alongside the unmistakeable Cee-Lo Green. Why? Because he is the man behind the music that you’re hearing. Gnarls Barkley is not Cee-Lo Green; it is the duo of Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse working together.
The same producer worked on the instrumentals for the Gorillaz album Demon Days, the Adult Swim sponsored collaboration with MF Doom entitled The Mouse And The Mask, and the not-for-profit project that first brought him the recognition he deserved: The Grey Album. This was a unification of the vocals from Jay-Z’s The Black Album and instrumental samples from The Beatles’ The White Album. It’s free to download, and is a great listen for any fans of good Hip-Hop. Danger Mouse is that creative talent who seems like he’s just emerging as a bright prospect for the future, but has actually been on the scene for more than a decade. Why is this? Why has his profile not blown up like that of other super-producers like Mark Ronson or Timbaland?
Well, the truth is, it has; just not so much among the mainstream audience. He has won numerous awards and even been named producer of the decadefor 2000-2009, producing music for other artists like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, U2, The Black Keys, ASAP Rocky and Martina Topley-Bird, to name a few. He has been the subtle, silent driving force behind a lot of the influential music of the 21st Century; a musical auteur who prides himself on remaining behind the scenes and innovating with his own musical approach at every turn. Although his roots are in Hip-Hop, Danger Mouse has never confined himself to a single genre, and 2011’s Rome is an album that most explicitly demonstrates his versatility and creativity. It was made in collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi, and has foundations in the music of the ‘Spaghetti Western’ film genre.
This influence is evident right from the outset, as subtle drums combine with acoustic guitar strums, and a solitary vocalist wails along without uttering a single lyric. The image of a horseman in the deserts of the old west is powerfully conjured, but the emotive power of the music is also very apparent, and this is what pervades throughout the album. There are some exquisite string accompaniments that rise and fall on many of the tracks, and these are the work of Daniele Luppi. His input only enhances the broad spectrum of the approach that Danger Mouse always takes to his work. There are numerous uses of percussive instruments like the xylophone in solos that add a transcendent, dream-like dimension to much of the music, as it alternates repeatedly between instrumental compositions and songs featuring Norah Jones or Jack White, who also wrote his own lyrics for his appearances.
All in all, this is an album that impresses on one’s first encounter, but really comes into its own through repeated listens. It suffers somewhat from unremarkable songwriting, despite the calibre of the singers it features, and this takes a little away from its overall effectiveness. You may disagree, but for me the instrumental tracks are the ones that pull me back to listen again, while the songs are a little underwhelming. This isn’t to say they are bad songs, just that they don’t really enrich the instrumentals a whole lot; I would have been happy to listen to every track on this album without any lead vocals. The richness of the compositions is quite sublime, and the film soundtrack influence appeals to me as someone who has a great love of film and music alike.
Rome is an album that feeds the mind and soul of anyone who seeks a little musical depth in their search for ‘alternative’ music. It lacks commercialised content, and yet oozes mainstream appeal as it has had songs featured in film and television, including Breaking Bad, that enhanced the drama without anyone even knowing what they were hearing. If you enjoy music that is easy to relax to, but also has genuinely meaty content to get your teeth into, then Rome is an album that you will get a lot out of. Plus, if you’re a fan of Danger Mouse, Norah Jones or The White Stripes then this album is simply not to be missed!
If you have any thoughts about Rome that you’d like to share with me, don’t hesitate to contact me through my Twitter profile. Enjoy!