“I have always had a bit of an obsession with The Twilight Zone [the original 1960s series] – the strange stories, the often brooding atmosphere, and the stylized aesthetic,” says Glasgow’s prodigious talent C DUNCAN, about his inspiration for his new album The Midnight Sun (FatCat Records; release date October 14, 2016). Named after a particularly ‘dark’ episode of the show, this follow-up to his Mercury Prize-nominated 2015 debut Architect carries a loose thematic thread, much like the psychologically warping TV series. “I knew I wanted the album to have more of a theme/thread throughout it which Architect didn’t have,” he continues. “I wanted to capture the atmosphere and create something that is almost an anthology series styled album, in which all the tracks tie together stylistically without being one big conceptual record.
Conceptually sound and musically cohesive, The Midnight Sun sees the DIY 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. “No matter how different the stories in each episode are, there’s a strong atmosphere and look to each episode which ties the all the episodes together,” he explains. From the pastoral opening track “Of Nothing More” with C Duncan’s layered vocals leading the listener through a rhythmic pop beat, to the snare shuffle of “The Other Side” to the spacy vastness of “Jupiter”, The Midnight Sun is an expansive tapestry of textures and tones, expertly crafted around his unique and ear-turning songwriting.
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 have gone on to receive huge support from the likes of Under the Radar who likened it to “shades of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear in its multi-layered harmonies” and The Quietuswho called it “elegant and thought-provoking,” thereby gaining a loyal and dedicated fan base – of fans and critics alike.
Like the disturbing episode it’s named after (in which the Earth shifts orbit and falls slowly towards the sun, casting 24-hour darkness on half of the planet), the album is “claustrophobic, mysterious and unnerving,” he elaborates. “’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 three or four 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.”
Born and bred in Glasgow, C Duncan has been surrounded by music his whole life. With a childhood foundation in piano and viola and later discovering the more rock standards of guitar, bass and drums, he studied music composition at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he produced work that has been performed by various musical ensembles across the UK. Opting for the more contemporary rock lifestyle, he fast-tracked from playing basement venues alone to selling out 900 cap venues within a year, his live show growing by leaps and bounds. Now joined by a three-piece band, they provide the perfect backdrop for his hushed vocals and help execute the plentiful harmonies with mesmerizing precision. US dates will follow a UK / European tour and festivals.
The Midnight Sun was performed, record and produced by C Duncan and will be released by FatCat Records on October 14, 2016.