Album review – “Frozen dream” Milana Zilnik
Milana Zilnik, is one of the most popular piano players on the Soundcloud platform, with 20,000 followers and regularly appears in the “Piano Explore” section, which showcases the trending / most listened to tracks across the world. Milana’s music is very difficult to “pigeon hole”, as she covers such a wide variety of genre’s, from classical, to jazz, across to new age, romantic and then dashes of ambient in there as well. Milana sums it up best, when she says “many of my free flowing melodies and harmonies were born after listening to my favourite masters such as Chopin, Debussy, Chick Corea, Oscar
Peterson & Keith Jarret.
Her latest album “Frozen dream” is an atmospheric, spacious musical journey, well worth the ride and here are my impressions of each of the tracks, one by one.
On a bed of softly played arpeggios, Milana produces an emotion laden melody line that is amazingly evocative. A feature of her playing is inserting unexpected chords in throughout her tunes and Autumn Dream is no exception. Dropped in here and there, these chords keep the interest levels of even seasoned musicians, at a high level. Arty Sandler, her husband / producer, has used an ambient degree of reverb to the beautiful piano tone, to achieve an emotive feeling on this opening track.
Falling into You
A much brighter piano tone on this second track, leads us into some really lovely jazz infused chords and runs. Milana brings a huge amount of chordal variations to lead us on “Falling into you”. The skill to convincingly pull this off is evident throughout this piece.
The Whispering Blaze of Autumn
A transparent, reverb drenched tone, sets the mood for this really lovely piece. “The Whispering Blaze of Autumn” starts as a very gentle breeze blowing, but then builds into strident arpeggios, underpinning a lovely right hand melody line. Broken into chapters of strongly played music and interspersed with light whispering phrases, makes this tune a relaxing track on the album.
Jazz voiced chords are a real feature of this track. Although this tune does not exhibit a strong melodic theme, the dancing Milana does between the vast amount of chords, is so pleasing to the ear, you hardly notice the absence of a distinct melody. This track fooled me, as I thought it had sparse synth backing, but it was just a really clever use of reverb & dissonant chords. This production technique, really enhanced the mood.
Childhood That is Gone
A return to Milana’s ambiently toned piano and using her lovely, lilting melody lines, this is the type of tune her many fans have given her the most listens to. Despite the romantic nature of this track, Milana still throws in some strongly played bass hand runs, that contrast so well with other delicate and airy playing.
I can just imagine this being played in a small jazz club, while businessmen sit around sipping on their drinks. The chordal motif at the start, breaks into some really delightful jazz licks. Anyone who plays piano or can recognise voicings in chords, will hear some really superb examples of full fisted jazz polyphony in this piece.
Looking Through a Frozen Window
The title sums up what Milana has achieved on “Looking through a frozen window”. Arty Sandler has achieved a piano tone that perfectly feels like ice, cold and glass. The reverb once again almost supplying another instrument to the mix. Of course, it can’t be understated that Milana’s touch on the piano also conjures up a cold, icy feeling and yet tinged with some warmth via the left hand arpeggios on this track. As I write this review, it’s currently 32c outside and my body temperature has been suitably turned down just by the mood evoked in this piece.
Once again, another icy themed tune and the tone and playing style echo this picture in my mind. Being a piano player myself, the variety and complex knowledge of voicings in Milana’s chords, are something I aspire to. Sometimes musicians of such high caliber as Milana and respected by other musicians, can often not connect well with the general public, but this has proved not to be the case, as Milana remains true to her style and probably because of that, has a huge following across the world.
As in most of Milana’s tunes, her left and right hands act like two totally different musicians & are on their best display in “Meltdown”. Such great, at times piercing, runs with the right hand are backed up by fluid bass lines and occasional left hand chords. This tune once again shows experienced jazz voicings in her chord selections and some speedy jazz licks punctuate the somber moments.
Elegant, reverb processed melody line throughout this brooding piece, set the scene for a lovely romantic track. This is what I feel Milana does best of all, conjuring up pictures that I see in my head, flowing out of “February Elegy”. The advent of film clips, has seen the death knell of people dreaming up their own “clips” to go with music. Hopefully Milana will never put a film clip to her music, as I’d rather each of us come up with our very own images to these evocative tunes.
From the Heart
As far as I’m concerned, Milana plays all her music “From the Heart”, so the title of this track is really applicable. Once again dense, jazz laced chords provide the basis for this tune. If you stumbled into a small jazz club early in the morning, when the whole place was winding down, this is the type of tune you’d hear. The real feature of this album, is her ability to get the length of the tracks just right. You never feel that they have overstayed their welcome, but also leave you begging for more.
Exquisite, high register notes open this levely tune. As the title suggests, Milana brings a tender, lilting feel to track No 12. This is my favourite tune on the album, as the notes painted a picture in my mind. Dancing from lightly played melody lines, to warmly played left hand arpeggios and chords.
Rhythms of the Night
This tune has such a full sound because of the rich chords Milana uses. The lovely reverb really enhances the spacious tone used and as well as plumbing the depths of the bass tones, She lights up the keyboard with her right handed treble clef playing.
Such tender playing to begin this piece. “Violet dream” has created such a welcoming cavernous place, I just wanted to dive right into this piece. This is one of five pieces on the album, that fall under 3:00 mins, but so much has been said in such a short time.
This is another favourite of mine on this album. Really intriguing melody line over a strong, confidently played left hand accompaniment. Light & shade trade places throughout this tune. On second and third listens, more and more phrases jumped out and grabbed my attention. “Movement” weaves through many different genres within its 4:42 length.
Waltzing at Dawn
Understated, sparse chords begin ‘Waltzing at Dawn” and when the right hand begins it’s lovely, jazz licks, you’re gradually being invited into a fitting end to this great album. The complex jazz chords are gradually broken up by strongly played right hand runs, that have shone through on this whole album. Milana moves effortlessly through many complex chordal runs in this piece and towards the end, plays right hand runs with sparkling clarity. A fitting way to round out the album “Autumn Dream”.