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Album Review: Accidental Etudes
Milana Zilnik
Cover image of the album Accidental Etudes by Milana Zilnik
Accidental Etudes
Milana Zilnik
2014 / Milana
61 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Accidental Etudes is the latest release from the amazingly prolific pianist/composer/singer Milana. Milana quickly became one of my favorite artists when she sent me three outstanding solo piano albums for review last year (two of which made it to my list of Favorites for the year). Born in Ukraine and raised there and in Israel, Milana’s unusual life experiences and her extensive and varied musical background give her much to draw on when she composes and improvises. She explains the title of this album by saying: “These improvisations of mine are purely accidental: they are moments in time that never repeat.” Additionally, like life itself, there are many moods and impressions conveyed in the eighteen tracks: light and dark, peaceful and turbulent, joyful and frustrated, etc., giving us insight into the heart of this extraordinary artist.

Accidental Etudes begins with the title track, a piece that displays several influences and effectively weaves together musical threads of classical, jazz, and pop styles. “Sunny Keys” is light and playful, constantly in motion. “Winds and Tides” is more relaxed although it, too, keeps moving throughout. “Dare To Be Me” conveys a gentle sense of determination as well as reflection as it spins and dances all over the piano keyboard. “Feel My Pain” turns inward, expressing innermost emotions in a very conversational way (without words, of course!). One of my favorites is “I Won’t Give Up.” Darker and very intense, some passages are powerful and resolved while others are quieter and more pensive. I also love the drama and swirling turbulence of “The Madness Within.” “Heart of Stone” is anything BUT cold and unfeeling. It is more likely reflecting on the hurt caused by someone with a heart of stone. Poignant and very expressive, I really like this one, too! “Missing the Sun” is somewhat more abstract and free-form but is no less passionate. “Rushing for the Fortune” has the feeling of an older rock ballad - fun but still a bit dark. “When I Am in Love” is a dreamy ballad that suggests that floating-on-a-cloud feeling of new love. “Uneasy Etude” is edgy and powerful with a pulsating rhythm that intensifies as the piece evolves - I really like this one, too! “Waltz of a Dying Candle” is my favorite on the album. Reverb and pedal effects give the piece a sense of mystery and feelings of space as the flame flickers, almost dies, and then brightly comes back to life. Dramatic and colorful, this is a masterpiece that tells a vivid story. It is an interesting aside that this piece also became a song shortly after it was published on SoundCloud. Milana got a message from Philip Bridle from UK saying that as soon as he heard the music, he rushed for a pen and paper and the words “just fell out of the pen.” He asked Milana to sing his lyrics, and that version is here on SoundCloud as well. The very lyrical and graceful “Out of the Dark” brings this beautiful album to a wistful and dreamy close.

If you are not yet familiar with Milana’s music, this is a great place to start! Accidental Etudes is available from Amazon and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
March 27, 2014
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