Rome

It's nice when dreams come true, and even better when the person has dreamed big. Superproducer Danger Mouse has for years been talking privately about a project inspired by 1960s-70s Italian film scores, and he didn't cut corners: He and co-composer Daniele Luppi booked a studio in Rome co-founded by Ennio Morricone, and reconvened the soundtrack guru's key musicians. Rome opens on the tumbleweedy voice of 76-year-old Edda Dell'Orso, who sang the haunting operatic vowels around Clint Eastwood in 1966's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It's a 15-track score to a film that exists only in your head.

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Co-stars Jack White and Norah Jones get three songs each. White is a ghostly high-plains drifter on "The Rose With the Broken Neck" and a self-loathing mercenary on "Two Against One." Jones plays even more against type, conjuring a sultry Sicilian soul diva over Isaac Hayes-style strings on "Season's Trees," and awesomely declaring, "I'm the disease," on "Black." More vocal tracks would be nice, but Rome is as much about sublime instrumentals — made of celesta, harpsichord, Hammond organ, strings, nasty funk guitar and those weird-ass choirs — as lead singers, just as Sergio Leone's great Westerns were as much about fantastic landscapes as acting. Just switch your cell to "vibrate" and enjoy the show.

Listen to "The Rose With A Broken Neck":

From The Archives Issue 1131: May 26, 2011