The music and work of C Duncan is an intricate crafting and intertwining of the artist’s greatest influences, his extensive musical training in composition and classical music studies interweaving with contemporary influences. The result? A totally unique sound. An enigmatic quality that provides something quite magical. A sublime solution of acoustic roots, ethereal chordal harmonies and electronic inflections, on occasion beginning to steer his music into the world of dream-pop, and consequently only further going to prove the artist’s transcendence of genre.
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This ability is only further consolidated in Christopher’s most recent album ‘The Midnight Sun’, which, while still maintaining a truly organic approach to songwriting, appears to be pursuing a more electronic aesthetic. The entire album has drive: from the anticipating drums in ‘Like You Do’ to the tripping rhythms of ‘Who Lost’, the whole album surges forward with confidence and conviction.
The opening track ‘Nothing More’, clambers upwards to ethereal heights, developing into a whole chorus of angelic voices, drenched in reverb. The result is something quite extraordinary. These discordant voices are developed and continued throughout the entirety of the album, unifying it and firmly maintaining its transcendence. As the chordal harmonies shift through satisfying and unexpected progressions, there appear to be more influences from the contemporary jazz exemplified by Hiatus Kayote and Bill Laurence, than the music of his classical upbringing. This continues throughout, bringing these contemporary jazz influences together the electronic vibes of the mighty Bon Iver and a consistently organic style of songwriting. Never is this duality within his songwriting more present than in ‘Do I Hear’ in which an incredibly natural piano introduction with sustained strings, oddly Carpenters-like, is built upon by reverb-drenched multi-layered vocals which intertwine and swell to ethereal heights.
With timbre and harmony used so effectively throughout, it is easy to forget the emotional path taken by the album. The whole album has an emotional intensity unparalleled by any of the artist’s previous work, a searching throughout for the resolution of the soul. The lyrics are intimate, like those of ‘Other Side’, making reference to past relationships in the most nostalgic way while ‘On Course’ looks to future paths and directions.
This lyrical intimacy is reflective of the entire recording process undertaken by the artist: a ‘bedroom studio’ process used increasingly within both professional circles to create a truly personal product and as a means to increase output in the light of rocketing studio fees and the increasing reliance on an online presence. In the case of ‘The Midnight Sun’ however, this only gives the album further originality – an integrity that drives the album, carving its space among the most transcendent and interesting albums of 2016. Uninhibited by genre, it is compelling in its beauty and the toying between the natural and the ethereal. A remarkable album, an artist with outstanding vision.