Danger Mouse, Luppi build ‘Rome’ with stars Jack White, Norah Jones

Alex Hagen

Films and television often rely heavily on music to help tell their stories. Whether it’s simply setting the mood or underscoring a twist in the plot, music is an integral part of visual storytelling. However, while film soundtracks are a good supplement to the overall work, they often aren’t able to tell a story on their own.

Rome, a recent collaboration between producer Danger Mouse and composer Daniele Luppi, is essentially a soundtrack without a film. Inspired by “spaghetti western” films of the 1960s and ’70s, the duo spent five years creating an album that both emulates and expands on the style of those films’ music. Though there is a distinctly vintage feel throughout Rome, the album has a modern flair that allows today’s listeners to easily connect to its music.

The pair enlisted high-profile vocalists Jack White and Norah Jones to play “characters” in the album’s open-ended story. White and Jones only appear on three tracks each, but they both make vivid impressions and help shape Rome‘s emotional arc. In their best moments: Jones’s “Season’s Trees” and White’s “Two Against One”: they are able to conjure distinct three-dimensional characters in the span of two or three minutes. Though they only give us a glimpse, their presence is subtly felt throughout the rest of the album.

However,  Rome‘s instrumental tracks are often the most intriguing. The beauty of the concept is that, while Luppi and Danger Mouse composed the music with distinct images in mind, each listener can envision a different setting and story. Every song on the album easily lends itself to new interpretations, yet the story’s mysterious air never really goes away. Evoking stories both new and old, the music of Rome is powerful enough to transport its audience to an entirely different place.