Daniel Ducote, the main man behind Ancient History, has been building his musical life for a while now, fronting Brooklyn band My Sister in 1994 before it imploded during the recording of what would have been the band’s final record—due in part to the slick sound of the production. He busied himself working with, among other things, winners of the UK’s X-Factor, but he never left behind his own musical passions. As Ancient History, Ducote has left that slick sterility behind in favor of haunting, confessional spaces. His voice nearly whispers through these songs, over the quiet thump of “Four-Leafed” or the twanging sway of “Hands are For Holding”.
There’s a lot of restraint here, compositions that seem spare in their hushed sound but are really just full of controlled, intricate textures. The piano of “Quiet Nights in Noisy Neighborhood” is muddled by watery organs and the acoustic guitars of “Eskimo” are slowly drowned out by atmospheric guitar echoes. It’s a subtly complex record, one that needs multiple listens to draw out all its musical peccadilloes. It doesn’t, however, always invite that next listen. For every moment of subtle expansion (see “Eskimo”) there are moments that wallow too long in their own quiet (see “She Gave You the Keys” or “The Courtyard at Midnight”) and run out of steam in the process. Tracks is a good first step for Ancient History, and a solid new path for Ducote, though it just needs to strike a better balance between being subtle and disappearing in its own murk.