The Duke of Disillusion
Review by Dylan Strain
I work in Big Note’s Red Room at The Comedy Pub in Oxenden Street, SW1 every Friday evening. Well, I say work - I sit by the door and take five pounds from people, whilst having a drink and a laugh with London’s youth, and getting to listen to a mixture of acoustic acts and the full band sounds of indie, rock and blues.
I had a bit of a rush on the door one Friday mid-December for the first act of the night. During the obvious stress of taking fivers and stamping hands, gradually bits of crafted, melodic guitar floated their way into my consciousness in a way music can do when it hits your talent button. Intricate rhythms, catchy as yer like guitar lines and strong vocals that might as well have sung “Hey, doorman, you with your back to me, I know I’ve got you, I know you’re listening!” Listening also was a silent, (rare for a lone acoustic act) albeit partisan crowd and other groups awaiting their turn to perform.
We were listening to Lance Quin, The Duke of Disillusion. This lad could go far. Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 24 years ago, Lance started to pick up the guitar aged ten, thanks to the song, House of The Rising Sun which Lance decided he wanted to learn to play on his dad’s classical guitar. From then on he has continued to hone his talent via high school, (working with many teachers) university and playing in bands.
Last year he recorded an album, Internal Conversations in the Dark (based on his journals in the U.K) with his friend producer/drummer Chris Mocke up in the hills in Magoebaskloof at KATBOK Studios, South Africa, with a 15Kw generator which incidentally meant that before any music could be played they had to get petrol every morning at the local station. The result, for the most part, is a heavy rock album which as Lance says himself “is melodramatic, it’s overboard, sarcastic, probably better in a play, but I just wanted the theatricality of it all to sing about the decadence in people’s lives (in the west), we get so much, it’s supposedly all good stuff but we are all just puking it out”.
Possibly the pick of the bunch here, the magnificent As my body slips away and a beautiful lullaby of lost love, The Gift are excellent illustrations of this theatricality. Just when you’re hooked by the quiet acoustic beauty of each track in Act 1, so to speak, bang, Act 2 - in comes the hard, paced up rock, the Jekyll to the Hyde that was enchanting. It’s like listening to Joni Mitchell when suddenly you’re hit over the head by The Sister’s of Mercy. This would work live, but on a record it’s just too much.
There’s much to admire on here however. The playing is excellent from both men, the scope of guitar rhythms and sounds combining tightly with Mocke’s drumming. Friends is a highlight, musically reminiscent of the late, great Jeff Buckley and Radiohead. Lyrically, Quin has things to say, on Apache. He sings of “people who might have strong opinions about certain things, but they are too busy to follow them through, to do anything about them, but they still need to spout their opinion nonetheless, they can’t just leave it, so you’re left with something that’s vacant in the air”. Whilst on CCTV3 a claustrophobic Orwellian sound targets vacuous celebrities and their followers.
The Duke of Disillusion is described on a poster for a gig at the famous rock pub The Hope and Anchor in Islington as a macabre singer-songwriter in the mould of Pearl Jam or Nirvana, but this is just part of the story for me. This lad has much soul and beauty in his live solo shows and little of the darkness that may be apparent on last year’s album, which somehow for me, just doesn’t suit him. In short, here is a man who looks the part and has the talent to do whatever he sets his sights on musically.