So, the quick background I guess (trying to educate myself a little along the way here). Danger Mouse = American music producer. Daniele Luppi = Italian composer.
This album took 5 years to make, and was inspired by spaghetti westerns. And yes, you just read that sentence correctly.
The recording process was all done on "vintage equipment." It includes a reunited Cantori Moderni (a choir formed by Alessandro Alessandroni - what a name), who were featured on the soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Jack and Norah come in for a few songs a piece to round out quite a cast.
Here's the trailer they filmed in the desert for the album:
"The Rose with a Broken Neck" gives us our first Jack White appearance, and it's completely haunting. Seriously, if Tim Burton made a western a'la Nightmare Before Christmas, this would be a part of the soundtrack. The things that they're doing here are not necessarily entirely pleasing to the ear, but they are unique with an essence of who these people are.
Apologies for my overly-flowery language today. Lots on my mind, and it comes out best when I talk a lot. Thanks for the indulgence.
For 39 seconds, "Morning Fog (Interlude)" plays like a far too high-pitched lullaby. Sorry, but that just pierced my ears.
Miss Norah Jones joins us for the next track, "Season's Trees," along with this incredibly raw music video of the song.
"Her Hollow Ways (Interlude)" does a little more for us this time, adding voices to enhance the lullaby. It's not quite as piercing, and seems to speak more in 57 seconds than most songs do in 3-4 minutes.
We're brought back into instrumental bliss with "Roman Blue." No, I mean it. I don't use the word bliss lightly. This is so beautiful, and has so many strains of different methods around it. There's an orchestral feel with the strings. There's a blues feel with the bass maintaining a riff throughout. There's a soul feel when the woman comes in to just add some "oohs." Incredibly done.
Okay, so, check out this video:
We're greeted by a chorus of "Ahs" accompanying the music for "The Gambling Priest," and reminded with the guitar the inspirations for the album as a whole. It's got the absolute film score feel with this oddly updated approach.
"The World (Interlude)" does build more, in such a way that you can tell it is an expansion beyond these narrow character scopes we've kind of been experiencing thus far. Anyone out there still with me?
Norah Jones is back, filming a music video exactly in the manner I would love to, for "Black."
A more narrow view is what we're back to, but I think it's pretty applicable to the people listening - almost all of them anyway. Musically, it's really a cool thing, hearing one voice go from solid to more ghost/echo-like. I know it's been done before, but I still find it to be a cool new sound.
"The Matador Has Fallen" made me giggle by title just a little bit. It's a cool sound though. There's a story in there too, if I'm not mistaken. The depth that has been able to be created in all of this is just astounding.
The non-interlude version of this, "Morning Fog," is much more bearable than the interlude had been. The chorus, I believe, is what softens it enough, or at least distracts from the pitchy notes hitting throughout. It is, again, a haunting take on the overall album concept, but you can almost picture the story as it moves along. That, to me, is the sign of a truly well-composed song.
"Problem Queen" brings back my dear Norah Jones. It's much more blues/rock than expected. Her haunting vocal mix is extremely appropriate, given the haunting nature of all that's happening in these lyrics. "We're only alive when we can be defectors of the clock." That's my favorite lyric here, but there's much more of the song in such a way that it's almost reflective of ourselves. I started listening to the music, and ended wanting more of the lyrics.
We get another interlude extension with "Her Hollow Ways." This is so much better than the interlude. There are slight electronic elements that are surprising, but welcome. Again, it's a mix of methods that is sort of astounding to the ear. I understand completely the move on the Producer of the Year nomination.
Appropriately, Jack White joins the boys for the final song, a full treatment to "The World." In a much more expansive view musically, you can actually feel the sunset shot widening to close the movie. However, the lyrics bring it much more personally in - into your individual world.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Season's Trees" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Roman Blue" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Her Hollow Ways" - Spotify, YouTube
I was a little put off by the idea of an entire album being done with inspirations of spaghetti westerns, but this was amazing. There was so much more here than some whistle or specific campfire guitar line. It was a gorgeous mix of sound and experience, and incredibly picturesque. It's rare to find music that truly does transform your mental image without digging into your life and people you know in a way, but this did it. This was beautiful.