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Album Review

With the spatial grandeur of his native Atlantic coast and the cinematic minimalism of a classic ECM recording, youthful London piano bard Douglas Dare delivers his striking debut LP, Whelm. Growing up in the coastal Dorset town of Bridport, Dare learned to play music from his piano teacher mother while absorbing the pastoral richness of the geography from his farmer father. Fed on classical music, but drawn to artists like Radiohead, Rufus Wainwright, and PJ Harvey, he has taken an interesting path with his music, blending a spare avant-garde aesthetic with dark but often melodic songwriting. The sounds he introduced with 2013's four-song EP Seven Hours were thoughtful and patient, taking their time to develop, yet ultimately engaging the listener. Released a mere eight months later, Whelm expands upon his themes of history, nature's severity, love, and loss, all sung in an intimate and richly tuneful voice. The arrangements are complex and smart, but not unapproachable, as his piano is joined by the distinctive abstract percussion parts of producer and collaborator Fabian Prynn. Occasionally, glitchy electronic elements are introduced, like on the bleak, difficult "Unrest" and the desperate "Swim," though even then, his piano remains focused in the mix. He is at his best on slightly more tuneful ballads like "Caroline" and the beautiful closer "London's Rose," but even the more challenging tracks will reward the patient listener with their clever structure and surprising moments of melodic clarity. It's a careful and moody album, but fortunately, Dare has the grace to pull off his sonic and lyrical meanderings without devolving too deeply into self-conscious philosophizing or experimentation for its own sake, showing that he has both content and mystique to spare.

Customer Reviews


Simply beautiful, a pleasure to listen.

Better Recognition

I found Douglas Dare by accidental on Soundcloud with "Swim". Instantly, the sound hit me. Not only was the song absolutely like riding a wave when you surf, but it made me think about loads of things.

It's rare for me to buy a whole album of a specificic artist. I can only do that with very few. One of joys I love about Brits is, not only are they versatile, but they can mix loads of genres and make something unique; making it look easy. Douglas Dare needs to keep continue making music and deserves some recognition.


Born: Bridport, Dorset

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

Singer/songwriter Douglas Dare grew up in the small coastal town of Bridport in South West England. Encouraged by his mother, a piano teacher, he began composing music at a young age but didn't take up songwriter until 2008 while at University in Liverpool. His elegantly moody, piano-based songs and haunting voice drew comparisons to artists like Thom Yorke and James Blake and eventually attracted the attention of London indie Erased Tapes who specialize in releasing avant-garde music. After relocating...
Full Bio
Whelm, Douglas Dare
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Customer Ratings