2019 / Milana Zilnik and Artyom Tchebotaryov
Review by Kathy Parsons
The one thing that is consistent in Milana Zilnik’s various albums (other than the high quality of her work!) is change. I have had the pleasure of reviewing nine of her previous releases, and they have all been very different from each other, as is Notte. In addition to exploring various styles of music, Milana has used some unusual pianos for some of her recordings, so I always expect the unexpected when she lets me know she has a new album coming out. Milana’s husband, Artyom Tchebotaryov, has also been very influential in her music as he often comes up with interesting ideas for Milana to explore while he records her improvisations. For Notte (Italian for night), Arty wanted her to play in a very ambient, minimalistic style - a bit out of her comfort zone, but you’d never know that from the beauty and ease of the music! Arty also came up with the title and concept for the album, which is an improvisation for each of the twelve hours between dusk and dawn (8 PM-7 AM).
While listening to the album, I could tell that the piano Milana recorded on was somewhat muted and asked her what she used to soften the sound of the piano hammers hitting the strings (a technique that is becoming very popular). Her response: “this is... a virtual piano :) Specifically, ‘Noire’ from Native Instruments. Arty purchased it for its ‘felty’ sound and built-in FX (echoing loops of mechanical noises from a piano) specifically for recording this ambient album. He also spent over a week playing around with note velocities and EQ to get the sound in the style of Nils Frahm or Olafur Arnalds.” With some recordings, those “mechanical noises” can be distracting, but that isn’t the case here. There are ambient “floaty” sounds and echoes (reverb) that truly add to the peaceful, serene quality of the music. Virtual pianos can often be much less expressive than a “real” piano, but, again, that is not the case here at all. The sound quality is smooth and velvety and wraps around the listener like a soft, warm blanket.
All twelve piano solos on the album have descriptive one-word titles such as “Shadows,” “Twilight,” “Longing,” “Silence,” and “Dreams.” Each piece is a gem by itself, but the album plays so beautifully as a continuous (almost) hour that I highly recommend the full album rather than individual tracks. It sustains a mood of quiet reflection throughout, soothing and relaxing the mind as well as the body. That effect deepens the more you listen to the album and would be a terrific non-medicinal sleeping aid as well as a musical enhancement to any quiet setting or activity.
Notte is available from www.MilanaZilnik.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as many streaming sites.
May 26, 2019
with Stephan Beneking