[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
I forget how I wound up on this guy’s page but after hearing what he does, it became quite clear that he was going to make me write about him. Perhaps I should explain: these eight songs jumped off the screen and onto a shiny, silver disc which has been running wild in my stereo for days now. I’ve had other albums which have been in heavy rotation but there’s something so satisfying about what Sergey Lunev does that I found myself going back to “Protagonist” again and again. No matter the time of day or lack of sleep, this became the go-to record. Once you hear what he’s up to, you’ll shake your head and wonder why people like this just slip on by while so much unremarkable shit saturates the airwaves.
He’s done his homework in the technique department, that’s for sure. His beats slyly slip in to his tracks so smoothly and so subtly that you won’t even feel yourself begin to nod your head until it’s been going on for several minutes. His usage of piano is so adeptly wielded that I wonder if he isn’t some kind of in-demand session musician in Odessa. Yeah, that’s right, Odessa. Bet you didn’t know this kind of thing was going on there, well neither did I. To find this kind of fully-formed, exquisitely produced mood music is insanely rare. People used to try pumping it out in the days when “Mezzanine” owned the independent charts but none could even get close. This guy, by contrast, is just making the sounds he wants to and if people are down with it, job done.
There’s a kind of child-like whimsy to what he does that brings a smile to my world-weary, cynical ears. I happen to think what we’ve got on our hands here is an inescapably beautiful meditation on all that is hopeful and good in this world. You can’t help but think the “Protagonist” is that hand which pulls you up off the ground after life has knocked you down yet again, the strength and grace of Lunev’s works you’re going to capitulate to without question. Forget all the talk of chattering heads and the wars rich men profit from, come be in this place for a while. We are powerless to effect change upon this world, it’s all bought and paid for but we don’t have to just meekly resign ourselves to the whims of aristocracy.
The one and indeed only influence I can make out would be on the seventh track, ‘Excuses’. The progression is very similar to Depeche Mode’s classic 1987 killer ‘Agent Orange’. If this isn’t intentional, I do apologize for analyzing so closely. Aside from this tiny facet of seconds, “Protagonist” is remarkably clear cut in agenda. Your mind is going to thank you for checking this out as will your feet because each song on here is a microcosmic borderline symphonic opus of cascading harmonies blended with heavenly grooves. Pop this on and forget your troubles, let the indelible sound of rain on the pavement whisk you elsewhere…lights out.