Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Furious Angels is the first album by Rob Dougan, released in mid-2002 in the UK and in mid-2003 in the US and Europe. It was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Award for "Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package".
Furious Angels was originally released as a single-disc album (14 tracks for its world edition, 15 for its home UK edition) dominated by vocal tracks, which divided listeners between those loving Dougan's gravelly voice and those hating it.
It was then rereleased as a two-disc album, disc one featuring all 15 songs and disc two featuring 10 instrumental versions of the vocal songs from the first disc, as well as two music videos; there's also been a special-edition set adding a booklet of lyrics and photographs .
The album was written, produced and mainly financed by Rob Dougan himself, rather than a studio, with funds generally raised through the licensing of tracks from the album to film and TV (see below).
This album has been described as "semi-dark, yet fresh and witty", however its appeal is far from universal, maybe best summarised by the opening paragraph of this 2003 Guardian article .
It's been noted how the overall tonality of both music and lyrics is essentially dark – in a similar way to some blues or folk music. The album seems structured as a descent into darkness followed by an ascension towards light (a comedy in the traditional theatrical sense). Tracks 1 to 9 feel like a rough descent, 9's "Nothing At All" providing the heartwrenching bottom. Track 10 feels merely disenchanted, 11 feels relaxed, 12 feels like optimistic melancholy from the coziness of a piano bar, and after 13 for a pause, 14 reaches the appeased light of "One And The Same (coda)".
Note: lyrics excerpts are provided for the most representative standout tracks one could sample:
- " Prelude " (00:43) A brief choral opening with strongly distinguished left and right channels, making it uncomfortable on headphones.
- " Furious Angels " (05:56) An uptempo track coordinating Rob Dougan's lead vocals, Joy Malcolm's backing vocals, a full orchestra, and "metronomic" synthetic beats, as well as subtle piano backing. It's also the only track that's similar to "Clubbed to Death", but with a slight gospel music twist.
- " like a sentence to death / i've got no options left / i've got nothing to show now / i'm down on the ground / i've got seconds to live / and you can't go now / cause love / like an invisible bullet has shot me down and i'm bleeding / yeah, i'm bleeding / and if you go / furious angels will bring you back to me / will bring you back to me "
- " Will You Follow Me? " (03:50) Romantic and soundtrack-like orchestral instrumental.
- " Left Me For Dead " (04:34) Orchestral torch song of strings tempered by some folksy bitter humour.
- " I'm Not Driving Anymore " (04:34) An electro/orchestral torch song that's now really dark.
- " tell me how long have i got / i wanna end this earthly toil / till this diet life expires / i wanna go swimming in the soil / and not come up for breath / sit in god's room // i'm unfit for consumption / i don't know how to play my part / i swear i'm alone in this thing / i'm a blind man driving my car / into oblivion / let it come soon / i'm not driving anymore / i can't keep up with you "
- " Clubbed to Death (kurayamino variation) " (07:29) Rob Dougan frequently attempts different variations of the same track, which usually find their way onto single releases, however the "kurayamino variation" of this track is significantly better known than the first one due to its appearance in The Matrix. Therefore, this version is now known simply as "Clubbed to Death", and the first one as the "Original Mix".
- " There's Only Me " (05:37) A moving and bittersweet hopeless-love song.
- " Instrumental " (04:28) A string version of "One and the Same (coda)"'s melody.
- " Nothing At All " (06:32) Possibly the best track, a powerfully poignant song about love, old age and death, which could thematically be compared, or opposed, to the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four". Dougan's usual gravelly voice is contrasted by falsetto peaks, and the simple use of an acoustic guitar, seconded by sparse piano and harp, demonstrates another facet of his musical styles.
- " let the whole world fall away / and fall into my arms / stay with me / i don't know how long we've got left // can i stay, and say nothing, at all, at all / where will we go when we get old / when the bustle and the noise / get too frightening // we'll learn as we go / to float far away / into silence / and i'll watch your face / and find patience and grace / in each line there // will you walk into the grave with me // fade away/and end up nothing, at all at all "
- " Born Yesterday " (05:20) A disenchanted club/orchestral song.
- " Speed Me Towards Death " (04:33) Despite its theme, a much more relaxed and energetic song, with blaxploitation hints.
- " speed me towards death / cause i just can't wait for her / i want her to come / i want to embrace her / i've decided it's life / that i don't like // i don't want to die slowly / i don't want to decay / i want to be chosen / i want to be made / i don't want to die lonely, and weary of life / i will not be earthbound / i'm gonna fly / for life is a game fit only for fools / it's a horse that can't win / in a race rigged to lose / so speed me towards death "
- " Drinking Song " (03:59) Almost jazzy, a melancholic piano bar complaint, growled as an half-drunk Tom Waits.
- " Pause " (00:33) Precisely 33 seconds of silence, probably intended to pace the album more effectively when listened to from start to finish.
- " One and the Same (coda) " (05:46) An uplifting and serenely optimistic finish.
- " we're one and the same / two birds adrift on the wind / as life slips away / let's keep believing / that we're one and the same / one and the same / let's start living / seize the day / can't miss heaven / it's a step away / let's keep persisting / another day / let's keep believing / come what may / we're one and the same / two hopeless dreamers / wasting away / god has an order / we'll find a way / one and the same / yes we are / one, one and the same "
- " Clubbed to Death 2 " (07:07) Preceded by precisely 60 seconds of silence; probably to designate its bonus track status, or as an encore. After about a minute of Dougan-esque instrumentals, a heavy drum loop fades in and the orchestra speeds up a bit and brings back memories of the original Clubbed to Death. The track occasionally takes breaks from the panicked sound to return to wholly orchestral elements.
Disc Two (instrumental versions)
- " Will You Follow Me? [instrumental] " (04:34) Followed by "Prelude"
- " Furious Angels [instrumental] " (06:04) Followed again by "Prelude", although with different use of stereo.
- " Left Me For Dead [instrumental] " (04:42)
- " I'm Not Driving Anymore [instrumental] " (04:34) A more immediate version than the vocal version, opening with the main drum beat and maintaining it for much of the song.
- " There's Only Me [instrumental] " (05:36)
- " Instrumental " (04:30) Identical to the version on disk one; mislabeled as "Clubbed to Death" in the track listing.
- " Nothing At All [instrumental] " (05:54)
- " Born Yesterday [instrumental] " (07:33)
- " Speed Me Towards Death [instrumental] " (04:30)
- " One and the Same (coda) [instrumental] " (08:17)
Clubbed to Death
The subtitle "kurayami'no mix" is Japanese for "darkness's mix" and simply denotes Dougan's own mix in a tragic style, as well as his stated inspirations from Japanese 'dark' writers such as Mishima or Kawabata .
The short strings intro is an excerpt from the first movement of Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. On the other hand, and contrary to a widespread rumor, the piano parts are not "samples of Elgar's Enigma Variations", and you wouldn't find them on Elgar's score: they are Dougan's own composition, played by himself; but this composition is indeed derived from the Enigma variations (especially the visible Theme and variations 1 and 12), and could be considered either as an apocryphal 15th variation, or as Dougan's attempt at solving said enigma, which is the fabled second, hidden theme Elgar said he based his 14 variations on, but never revealed (see details in Enigma Variations's history).
"Clubbed to Death 2"'s classical part is built around Chopin's "Prelude No.4 in E-minor" (from Preludes, opus 28).
Many of the tracks from the album have been licensed for use in feature films, advertising, or on television- it's often been said that this is the second-most licensed album of all time, behind Play by Moby.
"I'm Not Driving Anymore" is featured in the movie Driven . "Clubbed to Death" and the instrumental version of "Furious Angels" are featured in The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, respectively, and their soundtrack albums.
- Furious Angels transcripts - Only 7 out of 9 songs, but line-by-line lyrics.
- Furious Angels lyrics - A few typos, but all 9 songs.
- Amateur Clubbed To Death tab (20KB) For piano, with its MIDI file.
- Semi-pro Clubbed To Death tab (5KB) Adapted for guitar.
- Clubbed To Death (unofficial piano solo remix by Hobbes) (1.7MB) Free MP3 compiling only the piano parts.
- Piano adaptation of Elgar's Enigma Variations in MIDI file (104KB) Close to "Clubbed to Death" are parts 0:00-2:00 and 16:00-16:30.
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