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Dreamscapes

Milan Polak

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Album Review

Milan Polak's Dreamscapes is a very interesting instrumental album on the Finnish Lion Music label, with something for everyone finding its way on to this 13-song adventure. The tune "4 A.M." is jazz-flavored flamenco guitar that Muzak stations of old would have adored. It's beautiful and lulls the unaware listener, who will be jolted when the metallic "Shadowdance" follows, resplendent in Black Sabbath style riffs — Polak having studied the work of original Ozzy guitarist, the late Randy Rhoades. It could be Sabbath merged with a jazzy version of Deep Purple in their Perfect Strangers period. So very different from the pretty acoustics of "Contrapunctus III," just two songs before it, which could fit nicely into a Tangerine Dream set — a band Milan Polak toured with as guitarist. As a latter day musician for the late Austrian star Falco, of "Rock Me Amadeus" fame, one can understand the diverging styles on this impressive disc. The album opener, "Panic Room," is hardly an indication of what's inside — the music is as varied as the life of the man magazines have called "the most talented guitarist of Austria." The titles themselves seem to come from American movies: "Panic Room" and "Joyride," the former a charging hard rocker which shifts genres, the latter a superb pop song which, with some lyrics, could be a hit for a reconstituted Bachman Turner Overdrive (their lighter and more accessible side), or even Todd Rundgren. Polak's life, detailed on his web page as having been lived in Korea, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Germany, Singapore, Italy and the U.S.A., certainly is reflected in the multiple musical episodes exhibited here. The only "voice" appearing on the album is the telephone call from an alleged groupie which opens up "Girlfriends," a solid progressive pop tune with big-hit potential. "Dreamscapes" is Tangerine Dream dropping the ostentatious synth air and the hard rock — but you won't hear that in the sound — so very different from their wanderings, the vibe is more in the spirit of the performance. Again things change with "Straight Ahead" (not the Hendrix tune from First Rays of the New Rising Sun ), which is, as the title says, straight-ahead. "Sometimes I Still Miss You" closes things out with an eerie majesty, a fitting conclusion to a very well-planned and produced collection of ideas. Milan Polak is an artist to watch very closely; an imaginative composer with potential to bring the instrumental back into vogue.

Dreamscapes, Milan Polak
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