Rausch is of another breed entirely! Yep…
I knew it when I contacted the man for the first time. But after interviewing the man couple of months later, I am even surer of that!
On his successful debut album, RAUSCH, Doug Rausch did a brilliant job of penning some songs of high quality… Those feel like coming out of old pages of rock history but also feel so fresh. He clearly was able to mix his old-fashioned song craft with a modern feel, vibe and production and the result is pretty dang impressive to say the least!
He adds a certain dynamic and weirdness to the music which I always find to be fun – you’ll see what I mean when you have a listen. Everything about RAUSCH is interesting for that matter…
The artist tells me that he took his time to ‘give birth’ to this album… Looks like it was worth the birth pangs.
The album is a much pleasing affair full of quirkiness… I can tell you that it is the first time since Queen I’ve got the Vaudevillian musical vibe and it certainly delivers some of the finest music too, with the complexity of the arrangements and mastery in musicianship… There is a clear nod to Queen and I find it quite charming. In my interview I ask him whether he is sort of picking up the torch from where Queen left off with adding fresh elements to it and he confirms… Well, actually he doesn’t say it, because he is a very humble bloke, but by way of thanking me for the comparison, I believe he clearly admits that this is one of the ideas in the album.
As for a quick overview, his music is more along the lines of early seventies prog-rock, with a fresh and modern approach coupled with late Queen vibe – and it is definitely chuck full of surprise and humor! Tunes shape shift into shredding guitars and fast rhythms from classical sounds via masterful build-ups. There is nothing in the album that would make you go “oh, I’ve heard this before” at all…
It actually doesn’t matter whether you’re a sucker for classic piano or not, this record makes you feel good about your choice. If you are yearning for some piano chords with unique touches, this is an album for you!
Personally I have never been huge on piano in my music, so I ask the man why I am so impressed. Guess what I find out – Doug practiced Bon Jovi and Dream Theater songs from the age of 12… After sort of hating his instrument for about 4 years! Imagine that, the story sounds very familiar as I was told similar stories by other musicians I love to death.
Some important guys are on board with him and it’s clearly coming through from the final product. All the musicians are extremely skillful at their instruments. He chose and could get hold of the right guitar player to translate what ‘plays on his head-radio’ to the record.
The album features one of the best musicians in the prog scene… I am talking about Mr Gary Wehrkamp. Yes. You read that right! We witness some of his best guitar showcases where he lays down some intense, deep, emotive solos.
Joe Nevolo is on drums where he goes for some complicated proggy fills and solos of his own. Listening through the album, one realizes everyone finds their own niche… I like this a lot about this album…
Doug himself is amazing with his piano… I mean, really, amazing! His fingers are fast (as is his mind – just check out the interview), skilled and able to play intricate, nicely crafted pieces flawlessly and with a very clear personal, playful touch. Oh! Let me tell you, he is taking music seriously! Listening to him play is something that I’d suggest for all of mankind that care about good music.
I bet it is as fun to watch him play. It’s always a treat to see a musician as talented and, yes, as intelligent as Doug Rausch…
And that’s not all – the album has another awesome asset on board… Spock’s Beard/Transatlantic mix magician, the awesome producer and music engineer Mr Rich Mouser is working his magic here.
For the stage, Doug is teaming up with another great line up. Shadow Gallery virtuoso Eric Deigert playing the lead guitars, Gino Pinto (formerly of Shadow Circus Chilean) taking over the drums, and Mr. Joe Fine picking up the bass – the transition from studio to stage is very satisfying.
Back to album now!
It’s a great sequence of songs that flow into one another very well and he’s got something to say in every one of them. I’d say, pay attention to lyrics! They are light-hearted and playful with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor at places and his music makes the humor and the quirkiness all the more present. It all works very well. Catchy, well-produced, and as I confirmed it first hand, hard to resist not to fist-pump along…
And, the songs!
No Fair gets the album off to a really fantastic start. You understand right away that you’re in for some good music, very energetic and upbeat. Around the 3 minute mark, what I believe to be cross sticks is just awesome with the piano work getting crazy – vaudevillian muchly! It’s a strange song, a song stitched together from different parts of music history if this makes sense.
Then comes Bipolar with its beautiful piano chords. I love what’s playing in the man’s head! Ok, I’ll go ahead and say that it’s the most tasteful piano act… Coming up with great melodies is something I respect – so much so that I came to understand that it’s harder to do right than doing thick textures, nice harmonies, etc… The melody is the core of this tune as well, and the song has a certain enthusiasm to it! Vocals are fitting and very successful in conveying the feel. Guitars are really good and they eventually transform into one of the best guitar solos delivered by Wehrkamp at the 1:20 minute mark. Very tasty! Afterwards, Doug gets aggressive and gritty with his vocals… Mang! Nicely done!
Ode to Pain, although not Lady’s cup of tea, is a pretty Rock ballad with nice lyrical sentiments to it. I like the idea and it works completely in the context of the album, shaping up as one a varied, yet a cohesive work. Much of a calmer, a completely different sort of song.
The Pros & Cons of Linear – and the next two tunes – REALLY pick up the pace again. A little quirkiness in the first half which suits Doug a lot with nice drum work hidden here and there… it gets psychedelic at places… When Gary comes to the stage it feels for a moment that it’s all been building up and designed to lead into the that guitar part slayed and shredded by this great man. Awesome moments… I kid you not, it is intoxicating. The atmosphere is just beautiful! So much just whirls by the listener that it warrants many more listens too. I love the outro a lot! I mean a lot!!!
Survival Instincts!!! Definitely one of the highlights of the album! Do you happen to love the twists as much as the lady does? The time, rhythm, tempo changes? This is a song for you then. It’s a quirky one, yet so serious! So impressive with the Middle-Eastern beginning, with the oriental touch… A nice song with multiple sections . Half of it is light, happy, cheering, extra-vibrant and upbeat. And the other half is heavy in its own way, not double-bass-drumming-all-the-way-heavy, but you will hear some distorted guitars and frantic drumming! Each instrument complements the others very well. And bloody hell, yes some audible bass in the picture? It provides a great backbone, and adds to the heaviness and brutality with the vocals getting grittier and raspier though to the end, they fit the vibe so beautifully.! And all these tumble their way into another brilliant solo by Gary Wehrkamp. I can’t praise his work enough! Oh man this song brings so many good things to the table and is capable of getting anyone’s blood boiling! Everything sounds so full! Kudos!
RAUSCH is an album that breaks the musician as a serious artistic outfit, laying the groundwork for his future success. There is depth in this record and many, many hints of a fast developing talent and intelligence. You can hear it all over the place. I dig the guitar work, dig these harmonies the structure, the ideas, the awesome piano playing that has its own style, dig the serious stance behind all, the innovative approach, the quirkiness that spice things up and I admire the way the whole thing is structured and pieced together. The result is a nice prog-rock-opera or some genre-not yet-classified record that I can see fit neatly on the shelves.
As a final note, although it’s an accessible album, I wouldn’t hurry too much, it takes many listens to open up in full and reveal its true beauty.
Clearly, Doug Rausch gave his all into this, and crafted a splendid debut album that would pave the way for his albums to come.