Danger Mouse is one of the most prevalent producers in the recorded music industry right now. He won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year at the 2011 ceremony and is responsible for the sound of The Gorillaz and Gnarles Barkley. He's a mysterious figure, choosing to perform with a large mouse-shaped mask on his head when he DJs large live events, but freely giving away his real identity for smaller venues and interviews. Yesterday, he released a two-sided single, if you will, that offers a new sound for the producer. "Two Against One" and "Black" have a country feel to them. They rely heavily on acoustic guitar finger picking and a real--versus digital--drum kit. The songs still have a definite groove to them and demonstrate the fusion that has made Danger Mouse such a commodity in the industry.
For example, listen for The Beach Boys-sounding guitar solo about halfway through "Two Against One." "Two Against One" features Jack White, of the now disbanded The White Stripes, doing an almost straight forward country vocal. There's a twang to it. The verses and chorus are very repetitive, creating a modern Western soundscape built on syncopated rhythms.
The second track, "Black," features Norah Jones on the vocal. That track is different. It's a lot more produced. There's some kind of vocal filter on Norah Jones to create a dusty sound. Here, the vocal line is a bit more dynamic and closer to traditional verse/chorus song structure. Danger Mouse also uses more digital instrumentation. The keyboard has a music box sound (think "96000" from In The Heights) that sets off the chorus in just the right way. There are also synth pads and digital drums.
If you'll notice, the videos mention another collaborator: Daniele Luppi. Luppi is a film composer. He and Danger Mouse have been working on their upcoming album Rome for five years. They are trying to modernize the music of Spaghetti Westerns. Judging by these two tracks, they're on the right track.
Rome is due out 17 May 2011 in the United States.