“Rome,” a collaboration between producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton and Italian film composer Daniele Luppi, makes it clear right from the get-go where it is looking for inspiration.
“Theme of Rome” offers a clear salute to Ennio Moriccone, the composer famed for his contributions to the Italian-made “spaghetti westerns” of old, such as “The Ecstasy of Gold” from “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.”
One of the names on the masthead for this album, Luppi has reason to look up to Morricone. Assisting Luppi in his tribute is Danger Mouse, who recruited the composer to contribute to Danger Mouses’s project Gnarls Barkley. Burton, whether it be Gnarls Barkley, his own-mash-ups, or his other power-duo, Broken Bells, has a strong track record with whatever he touches. Does “Rome” live up?
As mentioned before, the album definitely captures the tone of Morricone in such a way that the listener can’t confuse what the purpose of the record is. Because of the thematic song titles of the instrumentals, such as “The Gambling Priest” and “The Matador Has Fallen,” titles that are never explained, the album seems to have a hidden plot. When Jack White and Norah Jones take to the microphone for three tracks each, a story of tough love in the West is strung out.
Thanks to the possibility of a plot and the variety of themes in the instrumental sections, “Rome” seems like an honest-to-gosh film score, a feeling that scores the album points. Of course, the score doesn’t come anywhere near to being as epic as the Morricone classics “The Ecstasy of Gold” or “The Story of A Soldier.” “Rome” uses less orchestral elements to make room for more modern instruments, and as a result, it never reaches the grand heights of its forbearer.