C Duncan

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  • Tom Low
Harvest Sun @ Leaf 3/3/16

Since the release of his debut LP Architect in July 2015 Glaswegian producer/songwriter C DUNCAN has been riding a wave of critical acclaim. The record earned him various plaudits including a Mercury Prize nomination and since then the hype machine has been in full flow. Thus, tonight’s big turn-out is not at all surprising, and to begin proceedings one of the brightest prospects of the current local scene TOM LOW takes to the stage.

Modestly seated in front of his keyboard at centre-stage there is an air of insularity about Low’s demeanor that’s also apparent in his song-writing. Delicately crafted and beautifully melodic, they are reminiscent of the subtle pop of Elliot Smith, and are imbued with an emotional intensity that simmers just below the surface. The stand-out point in the set is single Origami which showcases Low’s penchant for pop sensibilities as well as his talent for combining traditional song structuring with unusual aesthetic qualities. The single is taken from his debut EP Phone which comprises five tracks all recorded on an iPhone. This seemingly simplistic method clearly does not translate into his live performances as he and his four-piece band handle the relatively complex demands of the set comfortably, and produce an impressive display that is sure to have created some new Tom Low disciples in his hometown this evening.

With the room now suitably packed, C Duncan and his band emerge to an overtly warm reception. Silhouetted against a background of blown-up artwork from the album they ease into an accomplished and immersive set. The tracks, though often subtle, are highly ambitious in scope, and each one begins on a soft trajectory that ultimately leads to a roaring climax. Built on memorable and well-thought-out vocal melodies they have a definite choral quality that is accomplished through the intertwining of various vocal ranges. This means utilising all four members’ singing abilities and creates a rich sonic texture that is incredibly satisfying to behold. One of the highlights is set closer Garden, which demonstrates Duncan’s strengths as a composer and a performer. The song is an intertwining tapestry of ascending scales that manages to sound familiar yet unorthodox. Featuring clever usage of Duncan’s trademark lull and crescendo approach it never threatens to run flat. Even at points where most songwriters would have to resort to convolution in order to maintain the flow, Duncan’s deft hand keeps the momentum steadily going. Another more memorable moment is Here To There with its driving rhythms and falsetto harmonies proving to be one of the most upbeat sections of the set. The instrumentation is reassuringly simple and once again it is the vocal combinations that give the track its poignancy. Tonight has been a showcase of two artists in ascendancy: though both are admittedly at different stages of this climb it is always infinitely rewarding to witness this and tonight has been no exception.

Alastair Dunn

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