Douglas Dare – Omni

A joyous, electronic-propelled return...

Douglas Dare is the kind of artist who happily blurs classical, chamber pop, folk and experimental music to create something, well, daring. Then when you add his voice on top, you really have something special on your hands. On his new album ‘Omni’ he wants to do something different and to be able to dance to his music. Gone are the acoustic instruments, and in are synths and drum machines. Don’t worry though, Douglas Dare hasn’t lost any of his knack for storytelling, or captivating melodies; they’re still here but layered under beats and bass lines. 

After two opening songs ‘Absentia’ really kicks the album off: there is a bassline that wouldn’t be out of place in a John Carpenter film, and over this, scuttling beats and that trademark voice. ‘Sailor’ takes things down a bit. A cascading bassline does most of the heavy lifting, but a whimsical keyboard really steals the show with its staggered melody. ‘Sailor’ ends with a string section. It would have been nice to see it incorporated earlier in the song as its too sublime to only feature as an outro.

‘Teach Me’ is an absolute MONSTER. It opens with a shuddering bassline and stutter drums. Under this a synth plays the killer melody. It’s all shimmery and dayglo. The juxtaposition of dank beats and airy melodies is something that features again and again on the album, but never as effectively as on ‘Teach Me’. ‘8w9Zeros’ opens with this woozy synth. Its striking as its unaccompanied by a beat. Then it kicks in. The synth drops away and we’re off the races. The song sees Douglas Dare talking about how a couple find a greater connection with each other through eco anxiety. Now that’s not something I expect to see broached on ‘Omni’, but its creator does it with glorified aplomb and turns gritty social commentary in a stomping floorfiller. 

The first thing you notice about ‘Omni’ is space. There isn’t any. Each track is filled to the gills with music. The next thing you notice is how much movement there is. Elements are constantly in flux, nothing sits still; the beats are always rolling, the flutes are lilting. The vocals are glorious and the keyboards constantly moving forward. The third thing you notice is that the songs are claustrophobic. With all this movement, and lack of space, you’d expect the songs to be slightly oppressive, but they aren’t. They’re weighted perfectly. The last thing you notice is how much you are enjoying the album and are slightly glum when the songs end. When the next one starts you feel yourself smiling again. 

7/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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