Rob Dougan – Furious Angels

Rob Dougan – Furious Angels – 4/5
{Link removed at request}

Perhaps best known for the instrumental renditions of ‘Furious Angels’ and ‘Clubbed 2 Death,’ both used notably in the “Matrix” trilogy, it is unfortunate to see the man relegated to such a low status amongst many listeners. Successfully combining a strong classical influence with a powerful trip-hop electronic beat, gratuitously layered with powerful and emotional vocals with a blues-filled gritty style reminiscent of ‘Tom Waits,’ this is an artist worthy of mentioning beyond any association to the film industry.

Many could make the argument that his work isn’t original – sampling the drum beat from ‘When the Levée Breaks’ by Zeppelin for “I’m not driving anymore,” or using an orchestral arrangement composed by Elgar to open “Clubbed to Death,” – its not necessarily his source material that’s important, but rather how he utilises it, and it is here that he truly excels; breathing new life to old pieces, re-inventing his influences for modern times and seamlessly integrating them to suit his own purpose.

The manner of combining simplistic but effective trip-hop beats with acoustic and orchestral arrangements often resulting in a memorable atmosphere, delicate and fragile and perfect for allowing his vocal talent to reign. Perhaps not the tidiest of vocals, he instead lends a gritty imperfection filled with emotions from despair to retribution, and he doesn’t stop there. The lyrics have a certain poetic nature to them, carefully thought out and presented in realistic manner void of any romantic cliché, with lines that become rooted in your mind:

“Is there a melody - that could lead you to me - like a lullabied child lead to sleep?
So for one moment in time you'd find that you're mine
And softly I'd kiss you and weep” – ‘Drinking Song’

Despite this, the vocals could easily become wearisome and grinding in their depressive manner, which is where his orchestral capabilities come in. Writing his own pieces in ‘Will You Follow Me’ and the aptly named ‘Instrumental,’ he maintains a romantic theme, here often using a flurry of strings to provide a far lighter tone, contrasting his vocal manner. There is also an instrumental version to many of the tracks, but I’m at a loss as to why one would choose to listen to them over his thought-provoking lyrics. I may not be well versed in classical/trip-hop fusion, but I can’t imagine it being common, let alone so well performed.

Highlights: Left Me For Dead, Nothing At All, Born Yesterday