In 2015 Christopher Duncan, better known as C. Duncan, created a sensation with his debut release Architect. The release displayed C. Duncan’s truly gifted ability in blending his classical musical training with modern musical sensibilities and producing enthralling sonics. That ability earned him a place on the nomination list for the 2015 Mercury Music Prize and garnered significant critical favor from the music media. On October 14th C. Duncan releases his follow up, The Midnight Sun. The new release does not step away from the works of “Architect” but is an enhanced creation that fully compliments the debut and takes up where it left off.
Hailing from Scotland, C. Duncan comes from a classical music background with both of his parents being classically trained musicians. Duncan followed in their footsteps and studied music composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He is also an accomplished painter who states he paints what he hears and vice versa. He was signed to Fat Cat records in 2013 and self produced the debut release in his home studio. He follows that same pattern with The Midnight Sun again self produced the album in his home studio. The hallmarks of his productions are amazing layering, exceptional attention to detail and sounds that are achingly crisp and clean.
C. Duncan has stated that “The Midnight Sun” was inspired by the Cult Classic TV show “The Twilight Zone”. The release is filled with flashes of gentle psychedelics, edginess and a ghostly aura. “The Midnight Sun” does not contain any singles that jump out at you but instead takes you on a sunlit majestic journey of sound. It echoes the sounds of Roxy Music at their most lyrical, The Cocteau Twins and Beach House. The vocals throughout the album spiral and soar making for a very smooth and delightful listening experience. A number of the songs; Nothing More, Like You Do, Who Lost and Last To Leave are filled with panoramic pixilated synths delivering a shimmering feeling and dance with the line where ambient music starts. The otherworldly vocals on these tracks look to creating an environment of the serene and soothing rather than jarring or disturbing. C. Duncan with this effort attempts to meld indie folk, dream pop and coolwave concocting for his own personal genre.
The release also contains tracks that are bit more down to earth. Other Side and Window feature pianos that make for a much more tethered to the ground sound. Throughout the release there is a consistent emotional engagement that separated it from other similar performers’ efforts. The songs are evocative and lush. The standout selection of the release is Jupiter. The song is as mysterious and epic as its namesake planet. Duncan vocals completely compliment the atmosphere of the track. The selection is chiming, dreamy and mesmerizing and one can envision it as a soundtrack accompanying a trip through interstellar space.
C. Duncan is a stunning tunesmith of transcendent sonics. The listener can rest in his capable musical hands safely drifting off into soundscapes that are evocative and hypnotic. His crystalline layered vocals are complimented by his scintillating accompaniments. The album is best taken as a whole in one sitting and moves along quickly. If I have any criticism of the album is that it is almost too beautifully rendered. The songs have a tad too much use of the same section of the sonic palette, making some tracks hard to differentiate between. However, the overall beauty of the tracks out weighs any criticisms making the release well worth a listen. At the end of The Midnight Sun I was left to ponder what C. Duncan could create if given unfettered use of the tools of an entire recording studio. Hopefully that event will happen sooner rather than later, and if this album is any indicator it will be something to encounter. “The Midnight Sun” is without a doubt a beautiful and noteworthy effort.