The Midnight Sun

C Duncan

FatCat Records, 2016

http://c-duncan.co.uk

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/02/2017

Glaswegian painter/composer C Duncan (a.k.a. Christopher Duncan) approached the follow-up to his striking debut album Architect with aplomb, staying true to his muse and creating another beautiful and ethereal album. His latest effort, The Midnight Sun, seems more like an extension of Architect versus an effort to explore new territory. For those like myself who savored Architect, this is not a problem, and is, in fact, welcomed.

The songs are once again delicate constructions of layered vocals and keyboards, propelled by a drummer with a light touch. He achieves a rich and complex sound with a deceptive simple arrangement (piano, synthesizer, drums). This unique sound probably owes more to his interest in classical composers like Debussy than to more contemporary acts like Washed Out or Wild Nothing.     my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album is front-loaded with its best material, from the opener “Nothing More” through “Like You Do,” “Other Side,” and “Wanted To Want It Too,” each with its own hauntingly beautiful melody. The harmonies are complex and strange, bringing a freshness to the music that most dream pop acts cannot.

The one thing that separates this album from its predecessor is the slower pace. Most of the songs here have a rarefied atmosphere to them, and most of them are composed in a minor key. If there is any criticism that can be brought to this album, it is that eleven tracks of languid dream pop might make you drowsy.

Perhaps the most remarkable song here is the closer, “Window.” Beginning with a lento piano march, the song builds with successive layers of vocals into a choir. However, it gets interesting in the second verse when he gets the melody line to dip slightly by slowing the track for a moment, lowering the pitch, much the same way a vibrato bar does with a guitar. Bands like My Bloody Valentine used this technique extensively, but in this context, used sparingly, it is beautiful and strange all at once. It’s a small touch, but it really stands out.

I am glad that The Midnight Sun yields more of the sound that made Architect so good, but my appetite for this kind of material has been satisfied. With his next release, I am hoping to see him develop as an artist and bring us something fresh and new.

Rating: A-

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