Milan Polak - Guitar Odyssey
Such men like Milan Polak are considered globetrotters, that is people who travel widely and often. He was born in Austria, but also lived in Korea, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Singapore, Italy and the USA. I am pretty sure that he was able to encounter national and folk music of those countries during his travels.
He started playing the guitar at the age of thirteen in 1983. When he heard Randy Rhoads' music, he realized that his vocation would be a guitar playing. He also knew that musical background would be very supportive in pursuing his goal. He started studies at Schubert Jazz Conservatory, but left the shool's walls after a few months, because he had been... over-gifted! Fortunately, a jazz guitarist Les Wise founded the American Music Institute that was European Berklee College Of Music counterpart. He obtained a degree in 1992 as a student of Wayne Brasel. He became a teacher himself at the AMI a little while after the graduation. An idyll didn't last too long, because the institute finished its existence in 1995.
Mr. Polak has a special last name that means a Pole in my mother tongue, haha. Well, let's come back to the point. Milan cooperated with the likes of New World, Tangerine Dream, Marty Friedman, Haddaway, Sigi Mavon, O.S.T and Falco. The latter band was a pop group famous for its hit called "Rock Me Amadeus". Milan intended to ba a guitarist in that band, but Falco died in a car accident, so the tragic event had decided instead of Milan. Moreover, he recorded guitar parts for a musical titled "Blondel" and participated in different projects - Falco Cybershow, The Alchemists and J.A.M (by other virtuosos: Alessandro Benvenuti and Joel Rivard). Although Milan has always a lot of work to do, he could find time to write two books - "Guitar Heroes - Real Technique" and "Guitar Heroes - Real Fretboard Harmony". I always knew that Mike Varney has had a hunch forward excellent instrumentalists, and Milan is just his "acquisition". An Austrian was the first guitarist from Europe hunted by Mr. Varney.
Two albums under Austrian's name were released in 2005. The first one is the second Milan's solo album (in chronological order) titled "Dreamscapes". Lion Music also published "Guitar Odyssey" by it. The latter one is actually his debut CD that was previously released in 1995 under the title "Guitar 2001". It was hard to purchase, so Milan decided on rereleasing the debut ten years after its premiere. It's worth mentioning some things concerning the line-up. Two drummers - Thomas Lang and Bernd Fuxa played on "Dreamscapes". There were also other two drummers on J.A.M. project's CD - Peter Schönbauer and Florian Holoubek in two tracks. I'd like you to remember that "Guitar Odyssey" is only a remastered version of "Guitar 2001"!
The new version of the first album was enriched by a demo edit of "Where Were You Tomorrow?" (previously recorded for Mr. Varney). We must have an awareness that Milan composed a few tracks when he was sixteen! Therefore, he managed to collect here a body of musical experiences. A basic difference between "Guitar Odyssey" and "Dreamscapes" is that he used keys on the latter one.
Mickey Mouse's voice greets us in the beginning, and then a guitar gallop begins. If someone had played it to me without artist's name announcement, I would have thought of John5. It's no use! Milan referred with that track to Austrian folk music. There are the world of musical diversity on further parts of CD. Here is a place for a melody, technical parts, variety, compositional complexity, some fragments of a true drilling and shredding (briefly put - guitar jigsaws of every description), but as well no lack of the contrast ("massive" and powerful riffs on one hand, and Latin tunes out of acoustic guitar on the other one). The electric guitar sound makes me think of the latest Satch's releases, however improvised parts are the nod towards Mr. Vai. Cribbing is out of the question! Milan has many own ideas to offer (e.g. saxophone solo ideally included in "Vinka"), and I am pretty sure that some Austrian's concepts could have been used by Marty Friedman on "Music For Speeding". The effect of mixing instrumental metal music with jazz/fusion causes that no one (being knowledgeable about such a genre) should be bored with it. "Guitar Odyssey" proved that virtuosi more and more want to emphasize their versatility, giving up a dwelling on shredding and neoclassical metal only. Technological conditions were improved during the last two decades, so Austrian's music was played in another way (because of new musicians) and sounds much better as well. As far as I know, Milan is working on the next album, but with vocal parts this time. At the moment, we can listen to two recorded solo CDs and watch the washing powder's commercials on TV, because Milan's talent was also used in them! I am not surprised that Mr. Polak is regarded as the most gifted guitarist in Austria (Lanvall of Edenbridge comes in second). Besides, as I mentioned, he has a familiar surname for me and my compatriots, so there's no reason to dislike him and his music, haha.