Guest Review by Jon McGiverin
Imagine you’re a kid in the 80s. You’ve just woken up at 6am while the rest of the country is still asleep. You quietly creep down to your basement and turn on the TV, where you spend the next several hours wrapped in a blanket watching your favorite cartoons and TV shows. In a nutshell, that’s what this album feels like, a massive dose of childhood memories.
Protos is the latest album from musical mastermind Aleksander Vinter, aka Savant. This album explores a different side of Savant, something people might be familiar with if they have heard of his older works under the alias of “Vinter in Hollywood.” Protos helps to show the progress that Savant has taken with the evolution of his sound. Devoid of any drops or hard-hitting bangers, Protos instead takes the route of a more traditional album, with songs like ‘Rider In Red’ and ‘Laser Sharks’, feeling like they were ripped directly out of an 80s cartoon. The genre tags on the songs classify the album as electro pop, which I feel is rather fitting. The album is very cheesy, and not something to be taken too seriously. The lyrics in the songs aren’t very complex and they’re rather repetitive, but I think this further adds to the charm of the album, even if it does make it more of a guilty pleasure to listen to. Protos is the kind of album that people are going to love or hate, and that’s just the harsh reality. It’s very polarizing given the niche sound and the direction Savant took, but if you listen to it with an open mind I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.
There isn’t just one style or one feel for all the songs, each is able to stand on its own and feels like a different journey. The best example of which is ‘Nebula’, which feels similar in some aspects to Daft Punk’s ‘Contact’. There is a heavy space theme and a wondrous atmosphere created in a symphonic and experiential 6 minute song. To contrast this, there are songs like ‘Quest’, which is quite literally a 7 minute symphony of video game references. Alongside this you have remakes of earlier songs ‘Cry for Love’, ‘Super Sheriff’, and ‘Spaceship’. Maybe it was because of how many times I had heard the earlier version of ‘Cry for Love’ that was released on ISM, but when the main guitar riff came in there was an overwhelming sense of nostalgia that no song had given me before.
Now if you aren’t so big on Savant’s singing or cheesy lyrics, and maybe want something a bit harder, ‘Sword of Destiny’ is a lyricless 3 and a half minute speed chiptune metal hybrid song with insane guitaring and energy that would leave Dragonforce in awe. There is even a hint of Megaman in some parts of the riffs. Like I mentioned with ‘Nebula’, Savant has this wondrous ability to create a sense of atmosphere in his songs, the greatest example of which might be the song ‘Aquarius’. Immediately the listener is greeted with pirate-like sounds and a feeling of sailing the high seas; as the song progresses it feels almost like a 5 minute movie with each part of the song being a different point in the story. Some might also recall that last month Savant released a collaboration with psytrance kings Infected Mushroom called ‘Rise Up’. Savant also made his own separate version which he released on Protos. Far different from the Infected Mushroom version which had a psytrance vibe, Savant’s solo version opts for more of a personal touch. With beautiful opening piano keys leading into powerful vocals by Savant himself, ‘Rise Up’ is a powerful synth pop rock hybrid that is sure to move people. Closing off the album is ‘Beautiful World’ which has thoughtful lyrics and a chilling message, ending on an ominous tone that leaves you feeling reflective.
Overall, I was very pleased with Protos and the songs on it. This 18-track album is something unique and unlike anything I’ve heard before. There is an undeniable charm to Protos and you have to appreciate the fact Savant was so willing to put out something this personal and different for the public. It’s apparent after listening to the album that Protos is a very personal work for Savant. Whether you like it is of less concern to him than the fact that he has finally created tracks that are closer to his true feelings than anything he’s done before. As of the time of its release, Protos is currently my top album pick of 2014 and something I’ll be recommending to others for months to come.
You can stream the full album HERE right now.
Guest Review by Jon McGiverin