After having bonded over their shared love of Spaghetti Westerns, DJ/producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi spent five years immersing themselves in the feel and sound of 60s Italian Westerns, specifically, the iconic film scores that defined the genre. Now they’ve finally surfaced with a brand new musical project, the concept album Rome. Featuring vocals from many of the surviving performers who were previously featured on composer Ennio Morricone’s classic 60s and 70s scores, Burton and Luppi provide a contemporary sonance to the vintage backdrop with the addition of artists like Jack White and Norah Jones.
The entire album is now streaming over on The Guardian‘s site and we find its turbulence as profound and relaxed as it is haunting and heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Accompanying trailers for five of the tracks (starring White and Jones) are available online here, but last to come is an interactive film that might actualize itself as the colonizing cowboy to the album’s Indian chief.
The online experience, entitled 3 Dreams of Black, is a spin-off of the song “Black” and, according to the film’s director, Chris Milk (The Wilderness Downtown, Summer Into Dust), the storyline “is told from the point of view of a little girl who goes to sleep and has three dreams, each with its own interactive ‘rabbit hole,’” as he told Wired.
Aaron Koblin, digital media artist and Creative Director of the Data Arts Team at Google Creative Lab (who also worked on The Wilderness Downtown) said in the same Wired article that the story “starts out with her waking up and going through this journey, passing through a city scene, going on a train ride, and into some prairie-scapes—just a very lucid experience.”
Originally, Burton and Luppi wanted to include stills from an imaginary movie to accompany Rome, but Milk convinced the duo that the moving image would be a much better counterpart to the already cinematic nature of the music.
Using Google’s open-source and browser-based WebGL technology (available on Firefox and Google Chrome)—which lets web developers use your computer’s graphics card to display ultra rich environments without the usage of 3D glasses—Milk has produced a true transmedia experience that should be available online in the next few days. Utilizing still photographs and permitting user control, the technology enables an accessible participation that has the potential to be even more intimate than a regular film or live performance.
As if the album’s repertoire wasn’t enough to stand on it’s own, the way that Burton and Luppi are embracing this idea of the next-generation music video sets the stage for a new standard for producing and experiencing music all over again—welcome to the new Wild West.
Rome will be released on May 16th (UK) and May 17th (US)