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For the diehard fans of Danger Mouse this is one album that has been a long time in the making. Five years it has taken the American producer to finally emerge from the mist with this ode to Italo-Western film. And with Italian composer Daniele Luppi and a small cast of high profile guests joining him on this faux-soundtrack, to think it would be anything less than exquisite is just absurd and ignorant.

Drawing inspiration from such a unique sub-genre of film, ‘Rome’ has a distinct and distinguished sound that is mature and meticulous. You can essentially hear Luppi’s love for the romanticism and fragility of classic Italian soundtracks in every note played. It is truly a connoisseur’s album, a sentiment that is demonstrated perfectly through the blasé introduction Theme of Rome.

The careful placement of Jack White’s vocals in follow-up The Rose with the Broken Neck and throughout ‘Rome’ are a production masterpiece as they give the album the raw edge and bite that it desperately needs to stop tedium and repetitiousness creeping in. The Rose with the Broken Neck’s intriguing lyrics and conflicting lullaby/’soundtrack to a nightmare’ essences offer it the potential to take over the record’s preliminary stages.

Roman Blue is the instrumental piece that could accompany any great film (spaghetti-western or non) in a post-climatic finale scene and the soft howls that ring out towards completion give it a mystique that, on this album, is rivalled only by Norah Jones on Season’s Trees. Problem Queen’s intricacies are overpowered (without remaining completely unnoticed) by Norah Jones as her vocals again play a pivotal role in the distinction of this track as one of the album’s highlights.

While much of the record is instrumental, Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi have ensured that the subtle diversity between each of these tracks are not lost nor disregarded. It is a privilege to be able to enjoy works of such mastery. Anyone with taste will appreciate everything these artists have accomplished through their collaborations on ‘Rome’. In an intricate and sometimes inexplicable genre, Rome’s beauty shines like a lighthouse. Exceptional!

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Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

 

Mogwai’s career has thrived on the distortion heavy, guitar-driven music that seven albums later has become synonymous with the Scottish five-piece. ‘Hardcore will Never Die, But You Will’ ensures that this mould isn’t broken. Their tenure in the music business has reached a point where they have sculpted and re-defined their own genre (whatever that may actually be – some form of atmospheric, instrumental post-rock?) to such a point where whatever they release will be met with open arms. Don’t let this make you think that ‘Hardcore’ is simply a lazy replica of past productions though.

 

The album as a whole fits together very comfortably and it’s evident how much thought has been placed into every aspect of the production to create this polished feel (you would expect no less from such an experienced outfit). The dizzying, effect-pedal induced rock highs of lead-single Rano Pano perfectly contrast the sullen bass lows and whispered vocals of Stuart Braithwaite on Mexican Grand Prix, while the quiet interlude Letters to The Metro sets the mood for a launch into the powerful George Square Thatcher Death Party.

 

It’s refreshing to see a band that have in the past resisted the conventionalisms of traditional album structure to be willing to, for lack of a better word, conform to this structured style of production, so far into their career. Martin Bulloch’s smooth drumbeat on How to be a Werewolf will be one of the underappreciated highlights of ‘Hardcore’ as it gives a sense of drive and purpose that compliments the classic raw Mogwai guitar sound layered above.

 

Instrumental opener White Noise is a beautiful launching pad for an album that is full of emotional troughs and peaks, thought-provoking instrumentals and is yet another successful chapter in the sixteen year Mogwai story.

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