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Album Review: C Duncan – The Midnight Sun

 
By on Tuesday, 1st November 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

C Duncan The Midnight Sun album coverNot often, but every once in a while, you come across an artist who is so full of talent, you’re wondering where he’s going to go and do next. Scottish multi-instrumentalist and bedroom producer Christopher Duncan, who goes by the stage name C Duncan, released his debut album ‘Architect’ last year, grabbing a 2016 Mercury Prize nomination and critical acclaim. Classically trained yet also well versed in more traditional rock band instruments like guitar and drums, his exceptional background gives him an edge over his electronic / dream pop contemporaries.

For his latest effort, sophomore LP ‘The Midnight Sun’, Duncan not only made the music on the album, but as an accomplished painter, also made the cover art himself too. He says he wanted the image of a dimly lit staircase in a house to reflect the environment in which the album was made. I mean, seriously? It’s like the brothers in Field Music. Dude, can you stop being so selfish and leave some talent behind for the rest of us?

The normal looking, yet oddly ominous cover is also a convenient segue into Duncan’s conceptual starting point with this album: he named his newest work after his favourite episode of the American suspenseful cult classic The Twilight Zone. However, you’ll find ‘The Midnight Sun’ as a whole is less about leaving you terrified than to create a sublime mood, something it seems that C Duncan is a master in fashioning. This kind of music is largely chill, not chilling. And that’s just fine by this music editor.

As you listen to this album, it’s easy to forget that this was all written, recorded and produced in Duncan’s bedroom. Entirely by himself. His ethereal vocals on standout ‘Like You Do’ provide just enough warmth to strike the perfect balance with the iciness of the synth notes and the soft swishes of percussion. In a track-by-track breakdown of the album with The Line of Best Fit, he explained it was written with the intention to reflect the daily struggles of a friend with depression, and it conveys this well.

Similarly beautiful vocals appear on ‘Other Side’, which begins solemnly with piano chords and a rolling drum beat. But first impressions can be deceiving: the track opens up into a sweepingly euphoric track broken up by chimes. The beauty of layer upon layer of synths on ‘Wanted to Want It Too’ achieves a unique, otherworldly feeling, unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Speaking of otherworldly, Duncan might as well be on another planet for ‘On Course’, rhythmically interesting and with angelic voices seemingly singing as part of a sci-fi choir, and also on the celestial ‘Jupiter’.

On ‘The Midnight Sun’, C Duncan takes full advantage of his background in choral music and combines it with his strengths in dream pop and electronic orchestration. It’s a wonderful next chapter from Glasgow’s chief ‘Architect’ and an album to keep your cosy through these winter months.

8/10

‘The Midnight Sun’, C Duncan’s brilliant follow-up to his 2016 Mercury Prize-nominated debut ‘Architect’, is out now on FatCat Records. You can watch a live version of album track ‘Do I Hear?’ below. He’s been announced as the support act during Elbow’s March 2017 UK dates, starting the 1st of March at Birmingham Academy. For more on C Duncan on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeeF51WV3pU[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #2178: C Duncan

 
By on Tuesday, 6th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Glaswegian Christopher Duncan, better known as the 2015 Mercury Prize-nominated artist C Duncan, has revealed he’s been busy. In the time since the release of his debut album ‘Architects’ for FatCat Records, he’s been working on its follow-up, due out next month. ‘The Midnight Sun’ is set to be released on the Brighton label on the 7th of October.

The bedroom producer named his new album after one of his favourite episodes of The Twilight Zone, saying, “The Midnight Sun is also a real natural phenomenon, occurring in the Arctic Circle during summer, preventing the nights from ever being fully dark. Although not as extreme in Glasgow, during summer we often only get 3 or 4 hours between dusk and dawn. This has always had a profound effect on me mentally during these months, being more of a night owl myself, as it completely messes with my internal clock and confuses me year after year.” As a taster, Wanted to Want It Too’ is a quietly evocative number, with grand, sweeping synth lines. The song sits nicely with its minimalist, monochromatic promo video revealed last Friday. Watch the video below. For more on C Duncan on TGTF, head here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eV6r8Vp_RU[/youtube]

 

Video(s) of the Moment #2004: C Duncan

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Christopher Duncan, better known by his stage name C Duncan, had an incredible 2015 on which to build on for this new year. The classically trained young Scottish singer/songwriter’s debut album last year, ‘Architect’, which was released on FatCat Records, was nominated for the 2015 Mercury Prize. He’ll be releasing a new self-titled EP in 2 weeks’ time, on the 19th of February; the new release will include BBC 6 Music recorded session track of ‘Garden’, and three new, previously unreleased songs: ‘A Year or So’, ‘The Age for Love (is the Wrong Age for Me)’ and ‘Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops’.

Going back to ‘Architect’, today’s videos of the moment focus on the first track of C Duncan’s debut. Nearly a year ago last February, Duncan himself uploaded a promo video for ‘Say’; a year on, he’s got another promo for it, which is being called ‘the US version’. Compare and contrast them below. As warned by the artist himself on his Facebook about the new video, “And yes, the video has a butt shot. Ooh lordy lordy!” (Ha!) All I can think of, though, is it must have been awfully cold to be naked, stood there all alone on a deserted loch!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R15J_yfHJ8g[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoBM-G6uVTY[/youtube]

 

Bands to Watch #350: C Duncan

 
By on Wednesday, 1st July 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Having been surrounded by music from an early age, Glasgow-born Christopher Duncan (better known by his alias C Duncan) is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter. With classical musicians for parents, C Duncan was encouraged to learn the viola and the piano as a child, before taking up guitar, bass guitar and the drums during his school days. He then went on to obtain a degree in composition from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, whose notable alumni include James McAvoy, Alison Brie and David Tennant.

In December 2014, C Duncan released his first single ‘For’, a slow-paced arrangement with hypnotic vocals. The track, along with his follow-up ‘Say’, received high praise from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Huw Stephens, Vic Galloway, Steve Lamacq, Ricky Ross and Clive Anderson (on Loose Ends). Other supporters of C Duncan include BBC 6Music, Radcliffe and Maconie, The Guardian, NME and Amazing Radio. His music has also been played on various television programmes, including BBC1’s Waterloo Road.

Not only is C Duncan a talented musician, but he is also an accomplished painter, having had his work exhibited at galleries throughout Scotland. Highly influenced by Grant Wood and Gerhard Richter, C Duncan provides the cover art for his own records, expressing the same musical ideas through painted image.

One of the cover arts he has painted himself was for his upcoming debut album ‘Architect’, which features a detailed and stylised aerial view of a Glasgow side street. The album was written and recorded in C Duncan’s Glasgow flat on a bedroom studio setup, gradually adding each layer and each instrument one at a time. Despite being a time-consuming process, this allowed him to lovingly assemble the intricacies and subtleties for his collection of music.

You can listen to C Duncan’s debut album, Architect, when it is released on Friday, the 17th of July on FatCat Records. A day later, C Duncan will be the support act for Belle and Sebastian’s huge, outdoor concert at London Somerset House.

 
 
 

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We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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