Duncan Sheik
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Duncan Sheik , 7/10
Humming , 6/10
Daylight , 6/10
White Limousine (2006), 5.5/10
Whisper House (2009) , 5.5/10

Duncan Sheik is simultaneously an old-fashioned folk-singer of the Bob Dylan school and a modern electronic musician of the Brian Eno school. Born in New Jersey, raised in South Carolina, schooled in semiotics at Brown University (Rhode Island), Sheik grew up listening to the intellectual synth-pop of Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode and New Order. His first musical experience was the duo Liz And Liza (with future star Lisa Loeb), but his songwriter career started after he moved to Hollywood in 1992.

Duncan Sheik (Atlantic, 1996) offers a new kind of "ambient folk-rock" because it merges lush string arrangements and the acoustic style of the troubadours. The spare, introspective music of November and Days Go By harks back to Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, while the no less depressed meditations of In The Absence Of Sun and Reasons For Living bring the atmospheric strings and the convoluted guitar tunings (reminiscent of James Taylor) to the forefront. Notwithstanding the chronic mood of desperation and heartbreak, She Runs Away, with its quasi-eastern blend of electric, acoustic and slide guitar and strings, and the (relatively) lively Barely Breathing (with a hint of Matthew Sweet) managed to become hits.

Influenced by his Buddhist beliefs, Sheik's next album was a spiritual exercise and a philosophical essay. Humming (Atlantic, 1998) retains the gentle orchestratin of the debut, and, while overall less intense, adds a few gems to his repertory: Bite Your Tongue, slighly more aggressive than usual, the catchy and elaborate Alibi, and a poignant and mournful A Body Goes Down (dedicated to Jeff Buckley).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Marina Troiani)

Duncan Sheik e` sia un cantante folk vecchia maniera (scuola di Bob Dylan) sia un autore di musica elettronica moderna (scuola di Brian Eno). Nato in New Jersey, cresciuto in Sud Carolina, studioso di semiotica alla Brown University di Rhode Island), Sheik e` cresciuto ascoltando l'intellettuale synth-pop di Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode and New Order. La sua prima esperienza musicale risale al duo Liz e Lisa (in coppia con la futura star Lisa Loeb), ma la sua carriera di autore inizia dopo il trasferimento a Hollywood nel 1992.

Duncan Sheik (Atlantic, 1996) ci offre un nuovo tipo di "ambiente folk-rock" poiche' riunisce accordi elaborati e stile acustico da trovatore. L'essenziale, introspettiva musica di November e Days Go By ci ricorda Nick Drake e Leonard Cohen, mentre le non meno depresse meditationi di In The Absence Of Sun e Reasons For Living portano in primo piano l'atmosfera di archi e le convulse note della chitarra (reminiscenze di James Taylor). Nonostante la consueta vena di disperazione e dolore, She Runs Away, col suo mix dal sapore orientale di chitarre elettriche e acustiche ed archi, ed il (relativamente) piu` vivace Barely Breathing (con un'allusione a Matthew Sweet) sarebbero divenuti dei successi.

Influenzato dalle proprie credenze Buddiste, il successivo album di Sheik era un vero e proprio esercizio spirituale e un saggio filosofico. Humming (Atlantic, 1998) mantiene l'orchestrazione armoniosa dell'esordio e, anche se meno intenso, aggiunge comunque un paio di gemme al suo repertorio: Bite Your Tongue, un po' piu` aggressivo del consueto, l'orecchiabile ed elaborato Alibi ed uno straziante A Body Goes Down (dedicato a Jeff Buckley). Nick Drake e` il suo nume protettore.

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Unpredictability is the norm on Daylight (Atlantic, 2002). Despite the slick, mainstream-pop production, Sheik is obviously not interested in repeating his pop hits, and aims instead for a middle ground, where melodic hook and brooding dynamics meet and become one. Genius, Start Again, Half-Life, On A High, Memento are like a radio-friendly version of Nick Drake.

White Limousine (2006) abandoned the ghost of Drake and turned to orchestra pop, even employing a string orchestra.

The painstakingly orchestrated Whisper House (RCA Victor, 2009) falls somewhere between Randy Newman and Elton John.

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