Tag Archives: C Duncan

Celtic Connections: C Duncan, Man of Moon at Saint Luke’s, 26/1/17

An object lesson tonight – always choose your support acts carefully: whether by design, accident, or simply the vagaries of playing at a festival – for that is what Celtic Connections is – C Duncan, all-conquering hometown hero he may be, is nonetheless utterly blown off the stage by the previous set from Man Of Moon.

It’s a curious performance from the Mercury Prize-nominee all in – the gig is paced more like an early set from a DJ in a house club; gentle, wafting, polite beginnings only really getting going half way through: when put against the staccato, almost brutal brilliance of the duo just left the stage, it’s all… it’s all… just a little underwhelming.

And that ‘p’ word – polite – springs up time and time again; he’s never going to be Motorhead – nor should he be when he has brilliance such as the bucolic beauty that is ‘Say’ in the locker, but, the exceedingly mixed crowd – telling in itself – is perhaps treated to music that currently seems like it is trying to be all things to all people; a dangerous game… the dangers of being insipid lurk around the edges of that one.

Man Of Moon have the sound, the look and sheer stage presence of real contenders: for such a young band, they have an understated confidence that is truly impressive; mixed drum kit, guitar, away we go.

It’s dark and brooding but with a thump that totally belies their minimal setup; a band to keep a very close eye on; check the Medicine EP on Melodic records for an insight into a very exciting and loud proposition.

The headliner, on the other hand, whilst still being a relative ingenue, has enough experience to tighten things up: the beauty of the pastoral chords and drifting melodies are all there but, whether or not tonight’s gig is essentially a family affair – and the clan are in tonight – there’s a looseness around the performance and the in between song ‘banter’ that grates a little.

When things hit such as on the aforementioned and majestic ‘Say’ or the excellent ‘Architect’, it’s transcendent: you totally get why he garners so much attention, rightly, but then we meander about a bit, enlivened by some occasionally quite thrilling and jazzy drums from the five piece band but, and this seems quite harsh, it can come across as quite amateurish – a curious state of affairs.

C Duncan no longer has the shock of the new, is no longer a curio; we know the schtick now – and, when applied properly, it is a glorious and beguiling USP, but, despite us being in a converted church tonight, the quasi-choirboy vibe cannot succeed on sporadic spikes and charm alone.

At a crossroads now: tighten up, exploit that undoubted talent, drop the appealing to your gran attitude… above all, get some oomph in there; the music stands it, the crowd will appreciate it.

Conservatoire gig, this should not be.

One band member nearly doesn’t make tonight on account of smashing into a door with no little force the day before: (musically) more of that please, C Duncan, more of that…

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Words: Vosne Malconsorts

C Duncan – The Midnight Sun [FatCat]

The Midnight Sun is the second record from young Glaswegian songwriter and producer C Duncan.

Following on from the remarkable success of his bedroom-recorded and self-produced debut Architect, The Midnight Sun – named for an episode of the Twilight Zone – is a melodic slice of choral indie-psychedelia that drifts by like leaves on a stream.

There’s a charm to his cottage-industry approach and it certainly doesn’t seem to hinder his ability to craft lush melodies; layering up vocals into sumptuous soundscapes that are less wall of sound and more clear, reflective pools, shimmering and changing as you listen.

Once again Duncan takes charge of every aspect of the record from music and lyrics to its accompanying presentation.

The cover of his debut record was the streets around Glasgow’s Byres Road, this time he draws even further inwards surmounting his record with a portrait of his own front door.

You can sense the sounds and smells of the natural world in this music, even when Duncan himself only touches on them obliquely. It’s great music to soundtrack a retreat from the world.

In comparison to his debut, The Midnight Sun seems to have little concern for offering its listeners easy or even well-defined pathways.

It’s a gentle evolution from his debut; and one that sees textures dominate over straightforward songwriting, but when the soundscapes being constructed are this impressive and immersive, you’re instantly vindicated in diving in.

Lead single ‘Wanted to Want it Too’ uses repetitive synth and bass motifs to evoke a darker feel, more akin to Kraftwerk taking a rare forest walk, while closer ‘Window’ is the closest he gets to a true choral piece; subtly shifting piano chords laid beneath his most ambitious vocal theatrics.

Having studied classical composition at Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire, it’s no surprise that Duncan is a talented arranger; chord sequences are beautifully mapped out, perfectly weighted and blossoming like flowers, no matter whether they’re drawn from synthesizer, piano or the more sparely deployed acoustic guitar.

Nothing is as instantly hummable as the Fleet Foxes-like ‘I’ll Be Gone by Winter’, while the lightness of touch and the skill of the arrangements on the likes of ‘Last to Leave’ make The Midnight Sun a special treat.

A tour next year with masters of Manc melancholy Elbow will give Duncan a chance to take his three piece backing band out on the road, but until then The Midnight Sun is a mighty fine way to while away an hour.

Words: Max Sefton

Albums of 2015 (10-1)

20-11  –  10-1  –  Tracks & EPs

2 Hector Bizerk - The Waltz of Modern Psychiatry10 Hector Bizerk – The Waltz of Modern Psychiatry

If there is one thing Hector Bizerk are always on hand to offer, it is something new and for the Glasgow hip-hop act it perhaps doesn’t get more boundary-pushing than writing the soundtrack for Crazy Jane, a play about a 19th-century Paris mental asylum. But that is exactly what The Waltz of Modern Psychiatry is – an undeniably ambitious project, but one which the duo pull off magnificently. Throughout experimental sounds and true-to-form storytelling brilliance of Louie’s lyrics, the album manages to touch upon powerful imagery and serious mental health stigmas – this isn’t just a soundtrack for playing in the background of a stage play, it is a genuine work of art as a standalone album, which has a very clear and deep message. (Jay Henderson)

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10 CARBS - Joyous Material Failure9 CARBS – Joyous Material Failure [Save As]

Not quite a hip-hop record but far from anything else Joyous Material Failure is the creation of Jonnie Common and Jamie Scott released under the moniker CARBS. Consisting of slouchy beats and loose-tongued rapping the album’s subject matters range from Resident Evil, pizza and ice cream as the duo offer an insight into the millennial era by using witty puns that encourage listeners to chuckle though-out. (Jess Lavin)

9 Miaoux Miaoux - School of Velocity8 Miaoux Miaoux – School of Velocity [Chemikal Underground]

A bit disco, a bit techno, and more than a bit joyous electro-pop, Julian Corrie’s School of Velocity is nothing short of an incredible balancing act between simple, pure song writing and soaring, euphoric production. From hooks formed of towering synth stabs to its solid, but playful, underpinning grooves, School of Velocity perhaps surprises most in its impressive lyrical depth and ingenuity – an oft-maligned aspect of contemporary pop. It’s a progression not a revolution for Miaoux Miaoux, but is nonetheless a collection of ten more or less bulletproof tracks. School of Velocity is clever, but honest, and oh-so-easy to love. (Michael Mavor)

8 Poor Frisco - Sheep’s Clothing7 Poor Frisco – Sheep’s Clothing

Poor Frisco hail from East Kilbride, the very same unassuming west of Scotland town that brought us the great Jesus And Mary Chain and these guys are doing a fantastic job of carrying on the noisy pop gauntlet with Sheep’s Clothing. The melodies and harmonies are overtly pop, yet work so well with the interesting and sometimes angular guitar riffs. Sheep’s Clothing has elevated Poor Frisco into real contenders for most exciting band in the city; every track brings something new to the table while maintaining the rough charm that only Poor Frisco can pull off. (Andy McGonigle)

7 Errors - Lease of Life6 Errors – Lease of Life [Rock Action]

Everything from glittering arpeggios to mythical, almost Celtic nuances, each track of Lease of Life is unique, but they all share an ethereal quality. Yet much of what features is reminiscent of 80s new wave, echoing Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. There’s something very solid and secure about each track on this album, making it a truly accomplished piece of art. (Rachel Cunningham)

6 C Duncan - Architect5 C Duncan – Architect [FatCat]

Representing Scotland in the 2015 Mercury Prize, C Duncan brings a surprisingly original, dreamy and warm vision of the country through the bedroom window. Fittingly, Architect feels physically crafted and while the modern indie and pop influences are evident, it is Duncan’s atavism, channeling Palestrina and the choral origins of written western music, that defines his sound and make Architect the most intriguing and incongruous of Scottish releases. (Liam Gingell)

5 Prehistoric Friends - Prehistoric Friends4 Prehistoric Friends – Prehistoric Friends [Yetts Yeti]

Multi-instrumentalist Liam Chapman and violist Nichola Kerr’s self-titled debut album comes with bold choruses, dynamic instrumentals, heartfelt vocals and an overall atmospheric sound. The album, which was released as a limited number of handcrafted fossil plaster casts with a download code hidden inside, is just as unique as the format it was released on. (Jess Lavin)

4 Ela Orleans - Upper Hell3 Ela Orleans – Upper Hell [HB]

Upper Hell saw Orleans temporarily move away from the “movies for ears” tagline and the result is a collection of strong songs that stand together in a coherent structured LP. Upper Hell bounces around in a more confident manner; it’s still slightly cold, but here it’s more ceramic than icy. The cinematic narrative is defined, but the thread linking the songs results in the feeling of watching a high definition version rather than an old 35mm print; highly emotive and highly deserving of the praise it received.

3 Best Girl Athlete - Carve Every Word2 Best Girl Athlete – Carve Every Word [Fit Like]

Katie Buchan, aka Best Girl Athlete, saw her debut album, Carve Every Word, never leave the teenager short of praise. The album itself perfectly shows that, although she is young, Buchan can write powerful and intriguing tracks, which showcase emotional depth both lyrically and musically. Carve Every Word is a beautifully crafted album that can be listened to repeatedly and guarantees success will continue on from 2015.

1 Hudson Mohawke - Lantern1 Hudson Mohawke – Lantern [Warp]

For a record that seems stylistically and tonally to be all about confounding expectations, Lantern fulfills those aspirations and just keeps pushing. With evident influences from Mohawke’s immensely heterogeneous background in the very disparate worlds of EDM and rap production, Lantern is an expertly formed demonstration of invigorating, no holds barred electro-pop… and yet can’t be summarised by that alone. The record as a whole possesses an edge of experimentation and is certainly no stranger to risk in its construction, but still manages to remain astonishingly enjoyable from commencement to conclusion. (Michael Mavor)

20-11  –  10-1  –  Tracks & EPs

C Duncan at The Art School, 5/12/15

Every year the Mercury Prize nominations throw up a handful of surprises, as the judges seek to outfox the bookies (and occasionally baffle the public) with a succession of worthy free jazz ensembles, soul-grime crossover stars and elevated bedroom outfits who have the glory of being raised public prominence.

One of the beneficiaries of this year’s announcement is C Duncan, a 25-year-old trained at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow whose debut record Architect – while excellent – was rather more record shop curio than globe conquering pop phenomenon.

Never mind, riding the Mercury wave, Duncan has just come to the end of a successful UK tour, signing off his adventures with a night at The Art School, that bids farewell to the songs of Architect while hinting at where his fusion of classical choral harmonies with lush British and American folk sounds might take him next.

One new track has the melodic weight of vintage REM, but it’s the whistling assisted ‘For’ that most elegantly encapsulates Duncan’s merging of folk melodies and traditions with choral harmonies.

His songs owe a debt to the baroque arrangements and feathery touch of Grizzly Bear, the poetic tales of Villagers and even a touch of Jeff Buckley on the chiming ‘He Believes in Miracles’.

C Duncan3

As we gear up for Christmas ‘I’ll Be Gone by Winter’ is a shiver inducing and melancholic ode to time passing that would suit slowcore troubadours Low, while the encore of ‘Castle Walls’ has a touch of the magic that animated Nick Drake.

The interplay between Duncan’s songs rings from bedroom sketches and the complex harmonies necessary to make them a reality are fascinating, with counter melodies and chants blossoming from a stripped back three-piece band.

Even if they’re more comfortable on the crisply staged folk songs than the moodier, more psych-indebted tracks, the group are hugely impressive and it’s hard to imagine Duncan’s songs being as compelling without the massed harmonies that raise them to their finish.

Closing with the breezy ‘Foundation’, the cheery singer thanks the hometown crowd (and his mum and dad) before departing the stage, but his arrangements ring on around the venue.

In 2015, C Duncan will have been surprised to pick up a Mercury nomination.

Next time out he might be undeniable.

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Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Warrick Beyers

Doune The Rabbit Hole, 23/8/15

Sunday at Doune and we’ve found a touch of familiarity about the site, only today it seems to be filled with yellow as Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 closing things tonight and their fans seem to engulf the festival site in what could resemble a cult if you weren’t aware a silly, fun-times band were at the centre of it.

Still our day starts with food, and the food at Doune is the best you’ll eat at any festival; I opt for the French toast with bacon and maple syrup for breakfast, while Jess turns up with the most colourful breakfast roll I’ve ever witnessed containing; egg, smoked salmon and avocado.

Indeed today is full of indulgence in the food department, from barbeque salmon, to beer roasted brisket and plenty of veggie alternatives too it’s a joy to have this many options at a festival of this size.

The Shithawks-2

For the music my day starts in the Baino tent, as The Shithawks deliver a loud, fast rock ‘n’ roll assault on the those that have hit the darkened tent in the blissful early afternoon sunshine.

When the Dundee act hit their groove it’s powerfully engaging stuff, if a bit overwhelming for those trying to ease themselves out of a Sunday morning hangover.

Still, there’s plenty to dance as The Shithawks’ funk enthused basslines and infectious garage punk vocals, along with a never giving rhythm get things moving early on; it’s powerful stuff; could maybe have done with being a couple of bevvy’s down the line though and I don’t remember them having Aussie accents last time I saw them.

Prehistoric Friends-6

Following the riotous start we find a nice spot to the side of the Jabberwocky stage in preparation for Prehistoric Friends.

Even through the majority of the crowd remain seated (except an the young woman performing yoga with her daughter near the front of the stage – you wouldn’t see this at any other festival) it’s clear they’re enjoying not only the beautiful weather, but also the atmospheric dream-pop coming from the stage.

Originally a duo Liam Chapman and Nichola Kerr are joined by a full band, allowing Chapman to showcase his enchanting vocals.

Prehistoric Friends’ lush synth based tones on a sunny day are the perfect remedy for a hangover and a highlight of the weekend.


Moving back to the Baino tent for something extremely different – Halfrican pack a punch as their powerhouse guitar pop shakes you awake.

Their performance is high pace, energetic and intense, but much like The Shithawks feels like it’s in too early a slot.

Nevertheless, it is clear the trio are enjoying themselves as they bounce around the stage in their matching outfits and the crowd clearly share the feeling as the beat drives the performance forward, allowing Sancho Buna’s cheeky sneered vocals to shine, a few even decide to go ‘taps aff’.

Tuff Love-2

Back at the Jabberwocky stage is Tuff Love, whose soft harmonies soaring over fuzzy guitars are as effortlessly vibrant as ever.

Their set is minimalistic, but mind-blowing and even through Suse Bear and Julie Eisenstein come as slightly shy, their music speaks for them gripping your attention and not letting it go.

Tuff Love are an extremely tight live band and deliver 45 minutes of grunged up pop goodness, which draws even the weariest of punters down to the front for a little dance.

C Duncan-5

Next on the Jabberwocky stage is the much talked about C Duncan and this was my first chance to catch him in a live setting and I’m not disappointed as his set seems perfectly suited for the early evening sunshine, as each track seems to seeks out the disappearing rays with fresh and lovely harmonies.

The general comparison Duncan seems to be receiving is to that of early Fleet Foxes, and it’s easy to see why as the gentle builds and lulling vocal style do posses an endearing campfire quality; a truly charming way to spend the sun’s descent.

Be Charlotte-11

I’ve heard good things about Be Charlotte over the last couple months and with Hector Bizerk’s own Audrey Tait on board I’m extremely excited to see what young Charlotte Brimner has to offer.

Brimner breaks the boundaries of what it means to be a singer-songwriter as not only does she sing, but also shows her true musicianship as she raps and plays while still managing to ooze bags of swagger, however Brimner’s voice is what really strikes you, as not only is it completely stunning, but utilised to its full potential, showcasing her unique tone and technical ability.

Them Beatles-1

Then it’s the cheery fun festival finale back at the Jabberwocky stage as Them Beatles pull out their best psychedelia era Beatles attire, hit character and transport you back to the 60s for a set of sing-along fun.

It’s charming stuff, as they delivery an array of favourites in the most convincing fashion you’ll see; tribute acts might not be for everyone, but if you’re going to see one it may as well be Them Beatles.

Before the drive back to Glasgow for the ever-daunting Monday morning in work, I manage to catch a few minutes of the experimental, avant-garde, free jazz stylings of Death Shanties from under the big tree, and while their music takes some accustoming to it deservedly pulls a crowd.

Saxophonist Sybren Renema is situated in the tree with drummer Alex Neilson powering out franticly engrossing drums from the floor below, it’s attention grasping stuff and the ideally bizarre way to end a very special festival.

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Words: Iain Dawson/Jess Lavin
Photos: Bill Gray

Wickerman (Saturday), 25/7/15

Saturday got underway in earnest with RM Hubbert on the main stage; I arrive, a little late, to him announcing: “Radio One won’t play pop songs about depression…”

He describes ‘Bolt’ as a more upbeat number (facetiously described as his attempt to get mainstream radio plays), but it is followed by what, in his own words, is a sad song.

He dedicates it to his late father-in-law who he reveals had a major influence on his own life, relating that loss to the loss that the festival has been enduring this year.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, one reflected by Hubbert’s sensitive and gentle mastery of the fret-board, and only reaffirms why Hubbert, a previous SAY award winner, is such a gift to the Scottish music scene.

The set ends with ‘Car Song’, where Hubbert is normally accompanied by Aidan Moffat (who he guesses is still in bed); what I find surprising is how vocally similar the two are – as when he sings Moffat’s part, it really is uncanny.

witheredhand04Withered Hand is an artist who I have not seen live in some time – in fact it was just before he released his first album, Good News, in 2008 that I was engrossed by his live performance.

It was, therefore, with much excitement that I made my way towards the Scooter tent, only to find he was already half-way through his second song (it turned out that all the acts for Saturday had been brought forward 15 minutes to allow for the Wickerman Burning at midnight – making all our schedules incorrect).

Third song in he plays ‘New Dawn’, an imposing and up-tempo number that begins to stir the crowd.

Wearing a trucker cap, with a Black Sabbath T-shirt, it’s clear Withered Hand has gone through a bit of a change since last seeing him.

Brimming with confidence and heading a tight, five-piece band the new dynamic has introduced greater complexity and ambition from his older writing.

A good example of this is ‘Love in the time of Ecstasy’, where the slow, solo build up gradually builds to glorious cacophony integrating the plethora of sound that the five can produce.

It feels like a different song in this context, an upbeat gospel-inspired song that bares some resemblance to The Eels live version of ‘Climbing to the Moon’.

After a huge response from a now full Scooter tent, we are introduced to a newer track, ‘Horseshoe’, followed by original break-through hit, ‘Religious Songs’ (dedicated to all the Pagans on site).

The song order alone shows how far Withered Hand has come, his stagecraft is considered and routinely accessible.

This sometimes seems to feel almost at odds with the original awkward, theological and sexually obsessed roots of the material – lines such as “I beat myself off when I sleep on your Futon,” are now sung like proud anthems of personal revelation by a devout group of fans; in short it all works wonderfully.

Mere moments from the Scooter tent, Emma Pollock takes the stage in the Phoenix tent – 15 minutes early of course.

She admits that this was a bit of a homecoming as she had lived in Castle Douglas for six years and completed her sixth year of school at Kirkcudbright Academy.

The surrounds are somewhat distant from her spiraling, sun-drenched Californian sound, and despite being in a dark tent, the weather seems to be obliging, bestowing some golden shafts through the open spaces of the tent.

The stand out track in the set is ‘Red Orange Green’, which she plays shortly after introducing her new backing drummer.

Generating excitement on the Summerisle stage, Neneh Cherry seems ready to capitalise on the improved weather conditions.

Her Saturday evening starts with some poetry, as she floats onto the stage, immaculately presented, easily winning the award for best shoes on show.

She decides not to reflect the clement weather, plunging straight into ‘Blank Project’, a dark, moody track, seemingly inspired by elements of contemporary German sound and production, typical of her new approach to music.

It’s hard to fault, her movements are perfectly timed to the bass-driven percussive elements and it immediately sends a signal to the crowd – this will not be an exercise in 90s synth pop nostalgia; quite right.

Despite thoughtfully enjoying Neneh Cherry’s set – it felt as though we had been denied some upbeat, sunny festival vibes.

jimmycliff07It was a fleeting concern as next up on the main stage is Jimmy Cliff.

Needing no introduction, and before he even arrives, the Summerilse stage is as busy as I have ever seen it.

The crowd eagerly anticipates Cliff’s arrival and he does not disappoint.

Soon into his set, ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ lifts the atmosphere and hordes of people are up and dancing – providing an upbeat festival sound, a sound which Cliff provides with suitable aplomb and the audience welcome with joyous revelry.

Hit after hit surge festival goers into action – not since Chic played two years ago have I witnessed such an optimism in a Wickerman crowd and by the time he finishes with the eternally enlivening ‘Wonderful World, Beautiful People’ spirits have well and truly been lifted.

Sharing a similar trajectory as WHITE, who entertained on the previous night, C Duncan is currently riding high on a wave of promise.

Unlike WHITE he has a lot of songs (a product of a very busy year) to draw upon; the twenty five year old Glaswegian is becoming a radio favourite and he fills the small Solus tent within minutes.

His magnetism is evidenced in opening song ‘Far’, a steady, lilting sound, accompanied by whistling harmonies that immediately reminds me of Sufjan Stevens early album Seven Swans.

In recording, the soloist has a multi-layered approach and live, in the tailored confines of the tent, he manages to reproduce it with a well-rehearsed group.

His sound is full of craft and intrigue, during ‘Here to There’ he manages to get a very excited (and lubricated) Blochestra to kick off with contagious dancing.

He finishes on a high, with the singular Garden’, particularly impressive.

C Duncan has a well-developed and distinctive sound – and undoubtedly shines as one of the big hits of this year’s Wickerman.

For the final act of the festival I decided to avoid main stage headliners Example and DJ Wire in favour of fierce Glasgow five-piece Outblinker in the Solus tent.

They, like Ubre Blanca the night before, deal exclusively in sustained, immersive instrumentals and I was excited to see them, as a few weeks earlier I had documented a live session with them and was eager to refamiliarise myself with their live output.

They do not disappoint – opening with ‘Pink, they demonstrate tight intricacy with assailing blasts.

They are a collective of some very talented musicians and they power though their (regrettably short) set goading the crowd’s excitement for the Wickerman Burning.

I feel however, as I felt to a certain extent with Ubre Blanca, that this type of sound doesn’t lend itself well to a short (30 minute) set in a festival environment.

Their music is long and enveloping, demanding attention – definitely one to check out in a dark, beer-stained venue!

The festival ends with the annual burning of the Wickerman; as always the firework display is outstanding, although unlike previous years the organisers had decided to leave the main stage empty forgoing acts like Public Service Broadcast and Utah Saints who had played that slot before.

Overall, the festival is a hit for me; I’ve always thought that the smaller tents of this festival had more fascination, showing a more esoteric breadth of talent than the main stage and with the addition of the Pheonix tent it felt like another step forward in this respect.

Problems with the scheduling and weaker Summerisle acts can be easily fixed for next year, and I am convinced that these issues are in part influenced by the trauma the organisers have had to undergo this year.

Next year the Wickerman will be entering its fifteenth year, and I believe that after this year of transition, the long-term improvements will be felt, and enjoyed by larger numbers than ever.

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Words/Photos: Gordon Ballantyne

C Duncan – Architect [FatCat]

Compositional wizardry, exquisite harmonies and technical precision characterises Architect, the debut LP by Glasgow’s C Duncan, a record which instantly resonates before unravelling to reveal itself confidently as one of the best records to come from north of Hadrian’s Wall this year.

Theory and technique doesn’t make a great pop record on its own, and Architect is full of wonderful songs, swooning melodies and changes of pace.

It’s refreshing to hear a record with such intriguing reference points, Duncan has cited modern composers Arvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki as influences, and from a poppier standpoint the choral harmonies echo Fleet Foxes debut, but Architect is difficult to pigeonhole.

Architect opens with ‘Say ‘- in which a syncopated groove and sea of handclaps folds out into a lush and expansive chorus – as a first track, it’s simultaneously a trump card and a bold move – where to go from there?

Fortunately, Architect is record of high points, which burst from the speakers at a rate of knots, a strength in depth perfectly represented by the four-track run that’s bookended by previous singles ‘For’ and ‘Here To There’, and includes ‘He Believes In Miracles’ and ‘Garden’.

It’s a relentlessly joyous run of tracks that doesn’t let off.

The vocal interplay on ‘He Believes in Miracles’ recalls The Beach Boys mesmeric harmonies; an admirably direct lyrical performance (“someone came and stole my heart/I don’t want it back”) is enveloped by a musical backdrop that encompasses Spanish guitar and glockenspiel.

‘Garden’ picks up on the same lyrical themes (“take me out to the garden… I feel new, I feel so alive”), but is a more frantic presence, percussively harking back to the energy of Radiohead’s ‘Bodysnatchers’ before a chorus that’s the closest thing to rock on the record.

Duncan then throws in a brilliant opening to the second verse (“take me out through the fire escape”), throwing in a little tension into the narrative, slipping from the walls of an unspecified building unnoticed.

The intricate ‘For’ incorporates some whistling into its central hook and the 80s pop feel of ‘Here To There’ oddly evokes Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ in it’s first few seconds.

With such a strong and urgent opening two-thirds to Architect, it’s no surprise that the pace slows for ‘Novice’, ‘As Sleeping Stones’ and the chilled out ‘New Water’ with subtle strings adding texture to the former.

‘I’ll Be Gone By Winter’ brings proceedings to a suitably stunning close, a gorgeous slice of melancholy that brings snow and frost to even the most sweltering and clammy summer day.

It’s a blinder of a first record, showing a remarkable depth of songwriting ability and production skills – no steps are retaken and consequently even during what – in relative terms – is a less exciting final third, there’s never a dull moment.

And then there’s that title – Architect.

It’s an aptly named record, sketched out and fully realised, a unique proposition but ultimately all the more compelling for standing out from everything else.

C Duncan has built something spectacular, a record you could live inside for a month and that announces a songwriter destined for bigger and better things.

Words: Craig Angus

Admiral Fallow, C Duncan, Man Of Moon at The Art School, 10/6/15

A sold out Art School for Admiral Fallow’s return to Glasgow is filling up quickly, and I overhear a conversation on my way in that there are a few big local music industry names in to take a closer look at tonight’s opener, Man Of Moon.

The atmospheric two-piece appear to be one to watch; their spacey, reverberated psychedelic tunes are well written and well practiced, whilst the booming drums help add to the huge sound that this band (already with a lot of summer festival slots lined up) have.

Next up is C Duncan, who begins with the uplifting ‘Architect’, reminiscent of the uncharacteristic summer’s day we’ve had in Glasgow.

Duncan is accompanied by two other musicians, whose instrumentation and harmonies really fill out the sound.

The band play through their set with confidence and really take it up a notch with ‘Silence & Air’, the highlight of their half hour set.

Duncan’s nylon-strung classical has a mesmerising tone to it, none more so than in ‘Say’, which was released earlier this year and completes this assured set.

Admiral Fallow come on at 9pm and open with ‘Liquor and Milk’, from new album Tiny Rewards, which has seen the band travel in a slightly different direction, with a more spacey and less acoustic-orientated sound.

It takes only nine-minutes for clean shaven frontman Louis Abbott to deal with his first heckler about a lack of a beard, which he jokes about before they play ‘Evangeline’, the first song released prior to the album coming out.

The first dabble into the band’s back catalogue is ‘Squealing Pigs’ from the five piece’s debut Boots Met My Face, with Abbott playing electric guitar instead of the acoustic it was recorded on, before ‘The Paper Trench’ keeps the crowd going and both are welcomed by the audience with huge cheers.

This is the band’s biggest show since they played the Barrowlands in 2012, and their first headline gig in the city since they took a long break between second album Boots Met My Face and their recently released third, from which they then play ‘Building As Foreign’, in which multi-instrumentalist and singer Sarah Hayes’ voice combines perfectly with Abbott’s, which is typical of many of these well-crafted songs.

Even with a different vibe on the newer tracks, the band still keep woodwind instruments and their clever lyrics as central parts of the set; they seem to enjoy themselves throughout, while the crowd really enjoy singing ‘Subbuteo’ back to them.

An acapella version of ‘Four Bulbs’, ‘Brother’ and ‘Old Balloons’ all feature towards the end of this set, which marks Admiral Fallow’s long awaited return; Abbott says that there are cogs in motion for another Glasgow show towards the end of the year, so hopefully its not three years between this show and the next one.

More Photos

Words: Neil Hayton
Photos: Elina Lin

C Duncan – ‘Here To There’ [FatCat]

After the previous and monstrous single ‘Say’, C Duncan comes at us with ‘Here To There’: at once both not quite as subtly thumping yet slightly rockier.

The Beach Boys harmonies are intact, but there’s an almost post punk chug-along occurring underneath: the percussion may not be as solid and groovy as the last effort but the guitars are beefed up – and there’s still some decent thwacking of bits and bobs going on.

It’s supremely confident and singular and the dexterity displayed is at odds with the relative nervousness shown in the – admittedly first proper headline – gig; he and they really do not know how good they are, despite the polish of this output.

“Something tells me we’ve been here before…it’s so familiar” they sing and whilst that may be true it is at once reminiscent of the past with its pastoral melodies, but existing in its own, tiny modernist niche.

Backed by ‘Ocean Liner’ with it’s swirling atmospherics and plinking and plonking this is highly accomplished and, rather more importantly, delicious and delightful stuff.

Gentle and marvellous; this reviewer is sold; this artist is a tasty proposition.

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Words: Andrew Morrison

C Duncan at The Poetry Club, 3/4/15

The very very first headline slot by hotly tipped C Duncan tonight: it shows in the self-effacing attitude of all three on stage but there’s really no need for it; this is talent – needs some steering but there’s no doubting the skills.

The band come at you with glorious, soaring yet velvety harmonies, both vocal – including some incongruously great whistling – and on keyboards and guitar.

A slightly malfunctioning sampler joins in the party from time to time: and thank goodness it does because that’s when proceedings really come to life: the great closing tune ‘Say’ being the prime example; irresistible and benefiting hugely from the jolt of percussion over and above the Beach Boys like melodies.

Very much an intimate affair this with the small audience squeezed into the microscopic Poetry Club giving off the air of friends and family: gentle souls all and luckily not invaded by Pressure / Electric Frog kicking off about fifteen feet away: certainly a juxtaposition of atmospheres.

And it’s largely successful.

This is a nascent career and there seems little doubt that though we’re at acorn stage, there is every chance of a substantial forest to come: Duncan has serious ability, bags of it.

By far the most successful tracks are when things loosen up a little and get some groove into the heartfelt mix; touch of electronica to lift things a little.

Not that they ever appear likely to rock out – the Kiss face paint and leather strides may be a way off yet – but with relaxation and progression beyond a simple acoustic strum along… well it’s excellent; really excellent.

Reviewing ‘Say’ a while back it was obvious there is an artist of no little class here: this gig confirms that; fans of classic song writing a la Bacharach et al will find huge amounts to enjoy.

More stagecraft, more confidence and possibly a lunatic manager and svengali added into the mix and there is every chance this mob will make it: you don’t want them to lose the ethereal, pastoral edge of tunes like the gorgeous ‘And I’, but more gigs like this, more audience reaction on show to the bouncier numbers – that expands and gives more generosity… and success.

Post gig the verdict is that the band don’t realise quite how good they are: endearing in many ways; it cannot last.

Album is out soon, new single ‘Here To There’ is out now: check them on Soundcloud and elsewhere.

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Words: Andrew Morrison