Glasgow’s prodigious talent C Duncan released his critically acclaimed and Mercury Prize nominated debut album ‘Architect’ last July, wrapping up an extremely successful first year with a headline tour and stunning sell-out performance at Union Chapel. 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 record is set for release on October 7th via FatCat Records. Listen here
The singer and multi-instrumentalist cites the American sci-fi thriller television show The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling, as the conceptual starting point. “I knew I wanted the album to have more of a theme/thread throughout it which ‘Architect’ didn’t have. 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 stylised aesthetic. 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. Although the songs themselves, 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.”
The album lends its name from a Twilight Zone season 3 episode aired in 1961, in which the Earth’s orbit has been perturbed, causing it to fall slowly towards the sun. “The Midnight Sun is one of my favourite [Twilight Zone] episodes. It embodies the style of Twilight Zone perfectly, which is often claustrophobic, mysterious and unnerving. 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.”
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 6Music and The Guardian, gaining a thoughtful and dedicated fan base along the way. “Towards the end of recording ‘Architect’ my production skills had developed, and I wanted to put them to the test on another record. I’m still very much in the mind-set that working alone from home is the best way to create music – for me anyway. I upgraded my home setup for ‘The Midnight Sun’ to give it a much cleaner sound. Unlike ‘Architect’, which was a big mix of different genres, the new album is much more coherent and concise sonically.”
First single ‘Wanted to Want it Too’ has a bittersweet quality to it. There is a hopeful charm to proceedings and a reverence in the tone, but above all the track showcases a songwriter capable of invoking various emotions in the space of three minutes. At first listen, one might consider the song downbeat, but on repeated listens the hopefulness and joy that characterises much of Duncan’s work is evident.
The album’s artwork, a painting of a dimly lit staircase, is also a piece by C Duncan, who also happens to be a skilled painter. “This being another album made from home, I wanted the artwork to parallel that.” elaborates the artist. “The paintings I have done for it are of interiors – the stairwell outside my flat to be precise. I spend a lot of time out there thinking about music, and I wanted there to be a very personal element to the artwork.”
With a bigger new live show in tow, C Duncan has blossomed into a fully accomplished live artist. Having fast-tracked from playing basement venues alone to selling out 900 cap venues within a year, his live show has come on 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 mesmerising precision. Full live dates below including C Duncan’s.