13 April 2013

Rob Dougan - Furious Angels

Those who haven't heard of Rob Dougan will undoubtedly have heard a lot of his material, heavily used in advertisements, television programs and films largely as a huge backdrop to set the scene and atmospheric tones. Dougan's portfolio of electronica, classical and trip hop reaches to an audience far beyond the chillout clubs and chat pages, championed by the likes of Top Gear, Law & Order, The Matrix but to name a few. However, despite his prolific songwriting, this is the only album he has so far released under his own name.

Hailing from Sydney, Rob Dougan is essentially a composer and producer, but his creative work is somewhat unfathomable and perhaps at times disjointed. It's too edgy to be atmospheric, nor is it danceable to be classified as dance. His vocals which feature in half the tracks of this album are rigid and uncompromising with blues influence ringing clear in his choice of choral style. The music is different to what this generation is used to hearing but ground breaking is probably too strong a term as evidenced in this album. Furious Angels starts off with an ethereal choir (Prelude), haunting but brief before the title track kicks in. It lends itself to an air of menace and urgency even before the beat comes in. Further suggestions of a shift of mood comes in with the classical and lightweight yet evocative Will You Follow Me? followed by a return to the dark side in the guise of Left Me for Dead and I'm Not Driving Anymore.

Clubbed to Death continues with the vein of heavily used strings as well as trippy backdrops and then gradually, things wind down gently through Nothing At All and Born Yesterday. Speed Me Towards Death for me is the highlight of the album, with a head in the clouds feel and a willingness to take a leap of faith. Unfortunately, by quite a long margin, The Drinking Song is the bomb of Furious Angels. I can recognise Rob's direction in that one with a minimalist approach, but his slurred sounding vocals, the solo piano and string combo turns out to be a total mismatch. At times it's almost comical before some sort of order is restored with One And the Same.

Furious Angels as an album is a spectrum of contrasts. At times engaging and sharp yet soul-reaching. But for me, all the facets don't fully come together and doesn't do any real justice to this fine musician's talents. It's an exception to the rule that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. M. Richardson 13.04.2013

6.5 out of 10. Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.

You can buy the album here

You can listen to the album on Spotify

You can follow Rob Dougan's activities here

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