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Rob Dougan
Furious Angels
Reprise


It takes something pretty spectacular for Hybrid to take on a major label release. And spectacular (as in Broadway) is exactly what the Australian producer delivers for Furious Angels. Everything about this operetta is big and dramatic. His Matrix hit "Clubbed To Death" has appeared on so many soundtracks and compilations that it threatens to eclipse Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" as the most overused track in the movies. Heard here in its natural habitat, the song soars again.

Dougan's storyline is a break-up which has left him violently bitter. The title track (as seen in Matrix Reloaded) is so full of believable threat that it's now prescribed for the newly love-lorn. Backed by fully fleshed-out strings, his initial Chris Rea vocals are unquenchable. Gruff whispers and low-end rumble span the spectrum from suppressed rage, to boiling rage, to exploding volcanic rage. This is one pissed-off, damaged customer. Possibly irreparably so. But since the fifth step toward recovery is to pen a vicious aria for your errant girly, let the healing begin. The instrumentation is fully developed with themes and motifs carried about by lush strings and meandering piano. Where I would normally insert a juicy lyrical quote is instead an admonition to Reprise for including no liner notes, cover or 30-page booklet. (Long live indies!) The dark fascinations culminate in Dougan welcoming the sweet comfort of a dirt blankey as the ultimate demonstration of love in "Speed Me Towards Death." And while he's narrowly avoided any Tom Waits comparisons, "Drinking Song" goes full bottle. His drunken slur is dead on.

Although the sound is large and attractive, there is a dick in the butter. And it's a huge, throbbing one that can't be overlooked. Dougan often sullies the movements with Adidas-striped dance beats on the tuxedoed orchestration: repetitive, relentless, unchanging beats, which work better in Trainspotting ravers than these quasi-classical compositions. It exceeds the Gavin Friday quotient for neo-cabaret and hurtles straight on through to Robbie Williams disco-lounge. Like pouring beer into the wine, this crime is greater than the glut of similar-sounding instrumentals, which are repeated on their own bonus disc. (Presumably for club and karaoke purposes.) The vocal tracks are far more deserving of this treatment.

While I'm not big on musical theatre, I'll be in orchestra seating if Dougan ever puts on a stage production. Unless, of course, his client Kylie Minogue is usurping the Grease role from that other Australian pop princess.

-Ewan Wadharmi

Track List:

1. Prelude
2. Furious Angels
3. Will You Follow Me?
4. Left Me for Dead
5. I'm Not Driving Anymore
6. Clubbed to Death
7. There's Only Me
8. Instrumental
9. Nothing at All
10. Born Yesterday
11. Speed Me Towards Death
12. Drinking Song
13. Pause
14. One and the Same
15. Clubbed to Death 2
16. Will You Follow Me?
17. Furious Angels [instrumental]
18. Left Me for Dead [instrumental]
19. I'm Not Driving Anymore [instrumental]
20. There's Only Me [instrumental]
21. Instrumental [instrumental]
22. Nothing at All [instrumental]
23. Born Yesterday [instrumental]
24. Speed Me Towards Death [instrumental]
25. One and the Same [instrumental]


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