Spirit of Journey
2015 / Milana/Milart Studio
Review by Kathy Parsons
Spirit of Journey is the fourth original solo piano album by Ukrainian-born Canadian pianist/composer Milana. Classically-trained from the age of four and strongly influenced by her father who was gifted at improvising on the piano, Milana’s music is exceptionally varied with strong jazz, rock, soundtrack, classical, new age and pop influences blended with life experiences and mixed together into one big wonderful musical stew! Milana tells amazing stories with her music, and for me they are often illustrated with intense musical colors. Milana gives this introduction to the album on her website: “Whenever I start improvising, I am taken on a journey. Melodies and harmonies constantly move and while they do, they let me create scenes from places I’ve never been to. Yet, the music has the spirit that unites and translates all of that to the listener. .... This piano album is about constant movement, dynamic rhythms and rich harmonies on the edge of jazz and rock. Cinematic soundtracks will take you to mysterious gardens, detective stories, a maze of surreal dreams and a moonlight stroll.” Each of the twenty tracks tells a unique and vivid story without the use of words.
I can’t tell you about all twenty tracks but I can describe some of my favorites. Spirit of Journey begins with “Drive,” an energetic piece that never stops moving and could be about driving a car or self-motivation, but is definitely about moving forward with a sense of urgency - a great opener! The dark and mysterious title track also has a driving energy and a strong sense of purpose - I love it! “Haunted” is a bit calmer, but is also very poignant and graceful. The sweet and tender “My Little Valentine” was undoubtedly inspired by a small child. “Garden of Mysterious Mirrors” is the first track with additional sounds that include chimes, bird sounds, and additional reverb. It paints a fanciful picture as it tells its tale of intrigue and mystery - fun! “In the Maze of Surreal Dreams” gets even spookier and more discordant, increasing the sense of discomfort you get from a vivid dream. “Darkness Awaits” is a bit more classical and beautiful - I love this one, too! The title for “Marching Pumpkins” creates a dramatic picture by itself, but the piece is playful yet a little bit sinister - another fun piece! “Trapped in the Music” presents (me) with a bit of a puzzle: how does one become trapped in the music? Lost, I understand, but trapped. Hmmmmm - interesting! The more reflective “Searching For Myself” is deeply emotional and very personal! “The Lost Key” begins with the sound of footsteps, a door closing and then a car’s tires screeching as it drives away. From there, it’s a dark and mysterious tale told mostly in the bass of the piano - intriguing! “Final Chord” incorporates cello and other lower orchestral sounds with the keyboard/piano to create the feeling of looking for something. The last section of the piece brings in choral voices, making the piece more mournful - possibly the “final chord” of someone’s life. “Moonlight Stroll” is peaceful, contented, and a little bit hushed like a whisper. Although incredibly beautiful, the closing “Farewell” expresses loss and sadness - an ending that leaves the listener hoping for more!
Milana has been very prolific the past several years, but the high quality of her music never wavers. Spirit of Journey is available from Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, and other online music retailers. Recommended!
December 21, 2015
with Stephan Beneking