Milan Polak is an awesome thirty-five-year-old guitarist who lives in Germany, but who was born in Austria. He’s definitely a very very talented guy, whom I would even dare call “a musician from the toes till the root of the hair”, haha! Indeed, he writes all his lyrics by himself, arranges, mixes, masters…basically he produces all his own stuff in his own studio in addition of being able to sing, playing various instruments (guitars, bass, keys, drums), giving guitar lessons, writing instructional books and much more! It’s the reason why I think he’s an “into-everything-musician”. A real one. A pure blood. You’ve got to listen to his albums!
“Guitar Odyssey” is the CD that made me know about the artist, my first contact with his music, and is Milan’s second instrumental solo album. In fact, it’s a new version of his debut “Guitar 2001”, released in 1995 – so when I say “first”, “second”, “third” solo album, I don’t count the original release. It has 14 pieces in all, which counts a bonus track that wasn’t on his first version, and the album has a length of about 53 minutes. It rocks like hell!
I never heard his first solo album yet, called “Dreamscapes” – but on MySpace, there are two songs available for each one (for a few weeks more), so you can go and check his profile if you’d like. You can also check this link for excerpts of EVERY track of “Guitar Odyssey” and “Dreamscapes” (and much more!)
Both albums are well known and acclaimed internationally! I guess the next one will follow the same route…but if you check at his CDs list, you’ll get amazed. There would be many more to mention, but I leave you the pleasure and curiosity to discover it by yourselves. ;-)
“Guitar Odyssey” has a bit of everything. I would not stick it to one particular style, because every piece is different from each other and has a different “essence” and “mood”. In his biography, he quoted: “I grew up and lived in a lot of different places all over the world such as Korea, Kenya, Saudi-Arabia, Austria, Germany, Singapore, Italy & U.S.A. which gave me the opportunity to get in touch with a lot of different cultures and musical styles. This experience, of course, had a major impact on my view of this world as well as my music.” And this is definitely something we can feel in his album! The cultural diversity is very present, from rock to progressive, passing through some jazz, maybe like in “Chain Reaction” and “Vinka” (a little bit), folk and Latin-American styles, for example in “Could’ve Been Love”, which is acoustic and I find it a little Spanish and exotic sound. It’s really cool! You’ll find very funny beats, rhythms and feelings too, like at the beginning of “Lights, Camera, Action!”, for example. For sure you’ll laugh but I won’t tell you why, here. You’ll find very aggressive, fast and lively pieces too, like in “Tendonitis” (mostly for the drums) and “More Than I’ve Been” or very sweet and relaxing ballads like in “Sunrise”. Really, “Guitar Odyssey” offers of everything, for all tastes, and all that staying strictly instrumental! I’d call it a “spicy” album. No song sounds like the other and I love it ! And the album itself sounds very original and individual too! I can’t compare it to nothing else I have ever heard. Well, just to Milan Polak, haha.
Nevertheless, if I had to give an example to someone who never heard of Milan before…I think those who like the music of Joop Wolters and Lars Eric Mattsson would like him too, even if all of these artists really have their own musical directions and distinctions. All of them really like to have various styles of music and we can detect a sort of cultural variety in their pieces. But all of them express it in a different way, which is quite difficult to explain only with words. Only you could see it if you listened to their CDs.
The songs that hook me the most, though, are “Sylphe” and “Witchdance”. Milan Polak wrote “Sylphe” for his dog, who died of cancer. It’s a really cute, sweet and emotive track. While “Witchdance” seriously kicks asses ! The whole piece has an incredible mood and rhythm…it’s ultra speedy, explosive…almost breathless and gets you happy right away! I think the guitar parts are my favourite ones, here…You really have to hear it!
The great thing with instrumental albums is that you can let your imagination fly wherever you want and I can promise you that “Guitar Odyssey” will succeed in making you create your own stories and feelings, which is even more appreciable if you close your eyes while listening to it.
In my personal taste, I’d give “Guitar Odyssey” a big 9/10! Every track is a real pleasure to listen to, has strong quality and credibility and the best advice I could give you is to try it too so you can make your own idea. ;-)
I’ll be watching closely for his next and third solo album too, which, this time, won’t be instrumental. He will sing on it. ;-) The release date is not announced yet but if you want to know more about it, check out his website once in a while. His biography is also full of interesting info and facts and to learn more about Milan Polak, I strongly suggest you to give a look at it ! His personal “journey” is quite astounding !! ;-)
Reviewed by Vikie Martel on March 14th, 2006