By Jeff Latta
Danger Doom's CD The Mouse and the Mask (Epitaph) is a milestone, a touchstone and prime merchandise for anyone who is stoned. The temporary group is a collaboration between Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, beatmaker DJ Danger Mouse and prolific DJ/producer/rapper MF Doom. Doom is no stranger to one-off supergroups, having been a part of Madvillainy with DJ Madlib just last year. Likewise, Danger Mouse has worked with high-profile artists like the Gorillaz (he took over beat-making duties from Dan the Automator on this year's Demon Dayz), Jay-Z and the Beatles (albeit unofficially, on last year's brilliant mash-up The Grey Album). But never before has either of these underground superstars crafted such a perfect marriage of sound, style and sensibility.
Putting together two distinctive voices could create a disaster as easily as a masterpiece, and adding in gobs of cartoon characters from a popular late-night block of programming on the Cartoon Network should do nothing more than muddy up the mix. But somehow Mouse and Doom manage to maintain all of their distinctive methods while at the same time uniting their powers; the Adult Swim voices add in levity and originality. The cartoon influence is at its most apparent in the handful of clips featuring the characters themselves spread across the album. These sort of spoken pre- and post-song snippets are a mainstay of hip-hop albums, but they have never been more relevant or welcomed than they are here.
Doom is a longtime cartoon fanatic (his name is a reference to popular Fantastic Four villain Dr. Doom), so it is without shame that he proudly bases many of his lyrical plotlines on topics pulled from the various cult shows like Harvey Birdman, Sealab 2021 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Danger Mouse's beats are bouncy and cartoony, using funky '70s keyboards, tinny trumpet parts and floating jazz flute lines to create buoyant beats that sound like they were sampled from the cartoon theme songs of years past.
Originality is nothing new to Danger Mouse and MF Doom, but The Mouse and the Mask, released Oct. 11, takes forward-thinking to a whole new level.
From the October 12-18, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.