C Duncan's highly anticipated third album, following his Mercury Prize nominated debut and the critically acclaimed The Midnight Sun sees the Scottish multi-instrumentalist ditch his bedroom studio and work with other producers, engineers and musicians for the first time. Navigating themes of love, anxiety and sexuality, Health is a deeply personal record that delves into a world Duncan had previously felt uneasy exploring. Warm and harmonically rich, Duncan delightfully juxtaposes the vibrant and wholesome aesthetic of the album with an often darker lyrical undertone, pushing himself to refine and explore new ways of writing. As the sole protagonist of his self-carved niche, Health sees Duncan evolve and expand its parameters in mesmerizing fashion. Chiming with rippling enchantment, Duncan's vocal harmonies are executed with acute precision. Health has added even more layers while remaining thematically and lyrically laid very bare. Written around the time of the anti-gay purges in Chechnya, 'He Came From The Sun' sees Duncan slow things down and contemplate his own life and experience of coming out. Stuck Here With You' keeps the pace going before 'Care' wraps things up, the undulating heartbreak ballad a gentle and sombre end to an album packed with fresh ideas and buzzing with invention.
Glasgow's prodigious talent C Duncan released his critically acclaimed and Mercury Prize nominated debut album Architect earlier this year (last summer in the UK.) Now, his follow-up The Midnight Sun sees the bedroom producer return with a more expansive and experimental second offering, blending electronic elements and sweeping synth sounds with his signature layered vocals and dreamy instrumentation.
The album borrows its name from a Twilight Zone episode aired in 1961 Duncan muses, "it embodies the style of Twilight Zone perfectly, which is often claustrophobic, mysterious and unnerving. Like Architect, The Midnight Sun was recorded and produced entirely by C Duncan in his Glasgow flat, using his bedroom studio set-up and gradually adding each layer and each instrument one at a time. Though time-consuming, the process allowed him to lovingly assemble an intricate and subtle collection of songs that pick up where Duncan began with Architect and move toward a cleaner and more precise vision of the Scottish songwriter's vision. Duncan has heralded the new album as his "most coherent and concise work, sonically."
The son of two classical musicians, Christopher was drawn so persuasively to indie and alternative music and playing in school bands as a teen that he added guitar, bass guitar and drums to his existing repertoire of viola and piano, studying all five instruments at the same time. His debut LP for FatCat is full of achingly personal songcraft that's been recognized by NME, BBC Music, The Gurardian, Stereogum and most recently nominated for the UK's Mercury Prize.
Architect showcases a huge breadth in Christopher Duncan's songwriting abilities. Lead singles 'Say' and 'For' are characterized by their gentleness and warmth, while 'Garden' is bright, sunny and irrepressible, while 'By' and 'Novices' draw more overtly from Christopher's interest in electronic music and modern composition. He references The Knife and Arvo Part as willingly as Burt Bacharach and The Carpenters. Add to that shades of Talk Talk, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, The Ink Spots and the classical and choral compositions of Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Faure, and a picture of the record collection that informs Christopher's music starts to become clear.