Review Summary: Rob Dougan nearly orchestrates his way towards perfection.
Genre-blending can be quite tricky to master or even attempt in any form. Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule. Many genres spawn from the blending of 2 or more. Trip-Hop for example blends soul, hip-hop, and rnb influences in one mainstay. Dougan tackles an all together behemoth of a task. Dougan attempts to blend classical movements, bluesy vocals and melodramatic sound in every song. His composer skill is put to the test with ‘Furious Angels’, blending all types of genres from blues, folk, classical, and electronic. We can’t help but revel in this type of approach throughout ‘Furious Angels’.
On first listen ‘Furious Angels’ would be an excellent soundtrack for any dark film-noir type of film. Most, if not all of the material that is presented on ‘Furious Angels’ is extremely dim. The title track begins with Dougan’s vocals entrenching and graining in your psyche; the dark material that will make the listener to is extremely vulnerable to the ear, once Dougan has had his say it completely climaxes with a rush of simple drum approach, along the background a soulful background singer make this track enthralling. The stop-go 3 minutes in is fantastic with an even more orchestra feel to it than it previously was built upon.
Much of this album is severely dependent on the classical genre. Why wouldn’t it be? When you incorporate something along the lines of that type of music it will be memorable to the listener in more ways than one. “Will You Follow Me?” is a classic example of how Dougan approaches his music like a composer would in any film. Each section contains violins that give it an uplifting feeling, yet contains a fresh feel to it. “I’m Not Driving Anymore” driving force is the drum beat (opening drum beat from “When The Levee Breaks”) that occur in the background, simultaneously including small electronic samples throughout, enhancing Dougan’s work further. The classical pace at which the vocals and the instrumentation work is done tremendously well. Throughout this entire album Dougan’s choice of samples and classical fortitude, not only helps Dougan with some of his pedestrian vocals, but also lifts the song in dramatic fashion. And for every man and woman that has seen the sci-fi movie of the past decade (debatable in many ways) “Clubbed To Death (Kurayamino variation)” makes its ever popular showcase on ‘The Matrix’. Mixing orchestral samples from a British composer (Edward Elgar) and big beats that never seem to get old “Clubbed To Death” is one track that sticks with you. I mean that sincerely, not only does it stun you the first time you listen to it, it feels like a drug, always nagging you for more.
Lyrically this album is impressive just as Dougan’s precise orchestral arrangements that are spread throughout the album. “Furious Angels”, “Left Me For Dead”, “Speed Me Towards Death” all show a vulnerable outlook from the narrator. The vocals are superb on most of the album, but all lack variance within Dougan’s voice. “Left Me For Dead” although lyrically and instrumentally is fantastic, begins to wear thin - Dougan’s voice gets somewhat irritating at some moments, luckily the track speeds by quickly for any of us to make a fuss about it. The angry vocals with all-familiar lyrical content seems a bit forced to add the heightened sense of dramatizing the song, this isn’t needed at all, since the instruments do all of the work. “There’s Only Me” brings Rob Dougan’s vocal performances to the forefront. The background music as always encompasses a constant drum beat that brings about the pace, while he orchestrates the strings before hand, setting the familiar tone of disparity. Vocally Dougan’s best performance is by far “Born Yesterday”, he uses the stop-n-go style with his vocals for moments and interludes them with piano breaks, violins, and the changing of the drum beat every few minutes.
“Just cause I smile like a child born yesterday.
And she thinks that I was born in another age.
She thinks that I get up with the sun and dream my life away.
And she thinks that I'm going nowhere cause I stay at one place.”
Rob Dougan orchestrates, sings, and produces a magnificent album. All and all this album turns out to be amazing, beautiful, and dramatic. The flaws are minimal for us to ignore. The lack of variance within his singing style (no making your voice angry doesn’t count) is somewhat disappointing, but considering all of the positives Dougan tends to bring out within himself in this album its has become quite the accomplishment. The breaks of the all familiar noir type of music are a reminder of ‘hope’ (I would assume) since this album is dark in many ways. “Instrumental” and “Nothing At All” give that sense of hope, even if some of the subject matter within the song is murky. “Drinking Song” is the only true track that is skip worthy. The attempt to carry the song by himself without his classical movements completely fails. Dougan stated he’ll be orchestrating two different types of album that have yet to garner any news since the announcement 2 years ago (2007). We can only hope he decides to go through with it since his first album was magnificently crafted.