If I told you that this album is recorded by a 26 year old male from Glasgow, you probably wouldn’t believe me.  That’s because – putting Chris Duncan’s geographical origins to one side for a moment – ‘Architect’ sounds like it might have been recorded at some point during the sixties.  It’s so far away from what’s happening in the charts that you’d have to ask Scott McKenzie for directions.  This is a good thing!  Let’s hope you’re in the mood to relax when you sit down to listen to this – if the harmonies don’t cause you to float away on a cloud, then the relaxed acoustic guitars and laid-back melodies almost certainly will.

Whilst we’re waiting for new Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver records to land, this album fills the void rather nicely.  In actual fact, references to Fleet Foxes are slightly off course as there’s a definite British edge to Duncan’s sound which you certainly wouldn’t hear on ‘Helplessness Blues’.  It really is those harmonies which immediately grab you and pull you in.  The music is never overstated – actually the opposite, it wraps itself around the multi-layered harmonies like a warm blanket.
‘Say’ introduces us nicely to Duncan’s debut album, which incidentally was recorded one layer and one instrument at a time at home in Glasgow on his bedroom studio setup.  It’s a warm song which lays the foundations of what is an accomplished record.  I also particularly like the chord changes during title track ‘Architect’.  ‘Silence And Air’ builds heavily on those angelic harmonies and there’s also some lovely synths during the chorus along with some understated percussion.
Several singles – released digitally – are featured across the album.  Of these, ‘Garden’ is the track which initially grabbed my attention some months back.  It features a double-tracked acoustic guitar, synth stabs and the most beautiful chord sequence.  Like its predecessors, it has a sound representative of the mid-sixties, but at the same time sounds refreshingly contemporary.  In fact, every track here feels like a different chapter in the same story and yet is different from pretty much everyone else’s sound.
If you’re a fan of lo-fi folk, sixties music, angelic harmonies, great melodies – or indeed the aforementioned Fleet Foxes – then I’m certain you’ll enjoy this album.  Standout tracks include ‘Garden’, ‘Here To There’, ‘Say’ and ‘By’.
Incidentally, Duncan is also an accomplished painter.  His work has been exhibited throughout his native Scotland.  If you’re looking at the cover art and wondering who designed it, let me put your mind at rest – it was Duncan himself.  Nice, eh?
Paul Lockett

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