The follow up to C Duncan’s Mercury Prize nominated debut sees the artist transform his pastoral folk into a sci-fi infused synth odyssey. The Midnight Sun, which takes its name from an episode of The Twilight Zone, finds the artist in a more confident mode. The layered production of his debut is pushed further here, with Duncan’s vocals taking on an elegiac, choral quality over soft arpeggiated synthesizers.

The album opens with ‘Nothing More’ - a gorgeous blend of spacey ambient production, delicate arpeggios, and Duncan’s falsetto fading in and out. It’s a strong introduction, showcasing the new, expansive sound of the record, whilst ensuring that people who loved the intricacy of The Architect are not disappointed. In fact, C Duncan’s commitment to marrying both rich detail and atmosphere is one of the things which makes The Midnight Sun truly shine.

It would have been easy for the artist to just rely on creating grand soundscapes and leave it at that, but whilst these broad strokes might be the first thing you notice on the record, returning listeners will be rewarded with a depth of texture and sonic details. ‘The Other Side’ features a quiet arpeggiated melody that gives the song a sense of pace that helps build to the chorus’ euphoric synth chimes. Those moments wouldn’t feel as earned as they do here if the verses only consisted of piano and ambient synthesizer. Similarly, the combination of crystalline synthesizers and soft, quick tempo percussion lends ‘Like You Do’ a hypnotic rhythm that draws you into C Duncan’s vocal. The urgency of the synthesizer and percussion, helps to ensure that the vocal performance feels like it’s soaring. Title track ‘The Midnight Sun’ also evokes this, with a waltzing, staccato rhythm underpinning C Duncan’s slow, melancholic vocals.

That's not to say that The Midnight Sun is solely built on ambient pop, in fact it helps that there is some variety to be found amongst its 11 tracks. ‘Do I Hear?’ is probably the closest the record skews to the sound of The Architect with a beautiful, romantic guitar melody paired with psychedelic flutes. Electronic instrumentation here is used to add texture that allows the song to sit comfortably amongst the other tracks. ‘Wanted to Want it Too’, meanwhile seems to draw more influence from the dark-wave synthesiser sounds of John Carpenter and the Drive soundtrack, with a much greater focus on bass than other tracks on the album.

If there’s a weakness with The Midnight Sun it’s that C Duncan’s vocals are often buried under so many layers that what message or meaning he wishes to communicate is lost. Ultimately it means that The Midnight Sun is more of an atmospheric experience, than an emotive one. That’s less of a problem than it would seem, because the atmosphere that C Duncan has crafted is mesmerising.