Originally from Australia, Rob Dougan has been active in the U.K. club scene since the early '90s; he's a noted producer and remixer, working with Moby, U2, Kylie Minogue, and others. But as he reveals on his solo debut, Furious Angels,
he's also a remarkable composer. Balancing a 60-piece orchestra, steady house beats, electronic burbles and pulses, and, often, his own dramatic, passionate vocals, Dougan creates grand, sweeping epics. "Clubbed to Death" is already a classic. Featured in The Matrix
(credited there to Rob D.), the instrumental is a masterpiece of orchestral house music, one that appeals as much to the brain as to the body. Furious Angels
' title track (which is also featured in The Matrix: Reloaded
) begins with Dougan's raspy, confidential voice threatening, "If you go, furious angels will bring you back to me." The track builds slowly on a bed of strings before exploding with anthemic club beats. The disc most often recalls the cinematic soundscapes of Barry Adamson and Portishead -- especially on the second disc of instrumental versions -- as well as the over-the-top ballads of Pulp and the Pet Shop Boys. But it also touches upon the understated melancholy of the Blue Nile ("Nothing at All") and the woozy barroom narratives of Tom Waits ("Drinking Song"). Dougan, however, is an original talent, and Furious Angels
is that rare club-music album that sounds as great in the home as it does in the club.