An eerie synth melody… Wall of sounds and murmurs in the background… A voice – soft, feminine, and yet, full of colossal internal power. It sings a lullaby, albeit not a regular one. This lullaby is dark, macabre, enigmatic, it leads you into the otherworldly “Oblivion” (“Забуття”). Starting from the first track the debut album of a young Kyiv-based pop singer Lucy (Люсі) titled “Enigma” lives up to its name. It serves as a cryptic map to the world of secret desires and pleasures – and Lucy is your guide.
Yet through this tour, we also have a rare pleasure to experience another journey – a thorny road of an aspiring artist to her first LP record. Kristina Varlamova aka Lucy first emerged on the radars of Ukrainian music lovers three years ago, releasing her first music video to the track “Досить” (“Enough”). The track was a pleasant surprise as it captured some of the things thought to be long lost for the Ukrainian music. An atmospheric sound, poetic lyrics – it sounded nostalgic while simultaneously feeling like a breath of fresh air. No one knew anything about the artist and yet she sounded so familiar, evoking memories of the Ukrainian pop singers of the early 90s such as legendary Iryna Bilyk. And so, the wait for the album began.
Lucy, however, took things slowly, sporadically releasing new singles and collaborations, including the one with a young Russian electro collective Elektroforez titled “Прощатися назавжди” (“Saying Goodbye Forever”) – a roaring farewell letter full of passion. The singles kept on coming – and yet there was no news on the potential album. And then, like a thunder from the clear sky, in early July 2019, Lucy released a single titled “Мало” (“Little”) announcing that she expects to release her new album in the upcoming month of August. September came – and still no sign of the album. Lucy was starting to become a Ukrainian Jai Paul – artist of enormous talent and influence who is yet to release a proper LP record.
March 2020 – the day finally comes and we see a picture of Lucy riding a horse at local Kyiv hippodrome. On the cover of her debut album, she looks reluctantly into the camera – as if she herself does not believe that the record is finally ready. On a short, 9-track record Lucy explores various electronic and popular music palettes and blends them sometimes unexpectedly. She is not alone, however – she is accompanied by some of the brightest names on the Ukrainian electronic scene including Bejenec, Pahatam and Koloah. With sprinkles of future bass, jungle and hip-hop vibrations, the record sounds avant-garde and yet it stays relatively radio-friendly – a unique combination in today’s world. Thematically, it is a concept record dedicated to various initiations we come across in our lifetime. It is full of Biblical allusions with tracks titled “Марія Магдалина” (“Mary Magdalene”), “Ной” (“Noah”), “Енігма” (“Enigma”) and “Пекло” (“Hell”). The album sounds very cinematic with a consistent atmosphere and imagery throughout. Lucy, however, is not afraid to experiment – and yet these experiments, such as the Ukrainian folk singing elements in tracks “Ворота” (“The Gates”) and “Край” (“The Land”) do not distract and only enhance the overall experience.
The album ends with “На дні” (“On the Bottom”) – a track full of throbbing rhythms and gothic guitars which create a holistic vibe of despair and movement only strengthened by a neon-colored music video. Despite the title of the track that suggests that we reached the end of the journey, something tells me that it’s only the beginning and that it’s immensely important for music lovers throughout Ukraine and the world to keep an eye on this young woman. We are not “on the bottom”, no – we barely scratched the surface.