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Miranda Shvangiradze “Ready for the trip?”

Among my favorite piano players on SoundCloud is Miranda Shvangiradze, whose music is influenced by my favorite genres and styles: classical, jazz, modern pop rock and electronic pop music. Besides the mentioned styles, Miranda also explores such genre as Georgian folk, which is due to her roots – she grew up in Georgia, Eastern Europe.

While growing up, Miranda wanted to become a piano teacher but after graduating from Kutaisi music college she changed her focus to foreign language. After moving to the United States, and becoming familiar with digital instruments and audio recording software, Miranda releases her debut album “Ready For The Trip?”, the album presently being reviewed.

Ready for the Trip?” begins with the stylish and upbeat title track. Jungle groove and its syncopated melody are skillfully arranged into a dialogue of a piano and an accordion, transporting the listener to a modern French street. Different instruments add their own variations on the original motif, and along with the repetitive melody it is a charming track which literally feels like the beginning of a trip.

Sun In Cold Water”, the 2nd track, starts with a leading piano playing a haunting, dreamy motif. As the piece progresses, Shamisen (a Japanese instrument) joins the piano, playing Eastern motifs and creating the mood that is very appropriate to the title: you can feel the clear sounds of water. I found that the hip-hop influenced beat with a Latin twist lifts the track to another level of creativity. It was daring, tasteful and very modern.

The following “Take me with you” also has a Latin flavor: the piano melody sings out, while the drums put you in a mood for Latin dances (if you weren’t dancing already from the beginning of this whimsical album, then you might be now!). A flute joins in with neo-classical intertwined melodies, adding yet another colour.

The 4th track, “Driving at night”, transports the listener into another realm: more ambient and chilled than the previous tracks. It starts minimalistically with spacious echoing melody, yet many rhythmic parts are simulating the nightly traffic. This is a nice departure from a busy daily routine into the romantic nocturnal moods.

The elegant piano over a busy beat in “Midnight” follows the journey mood onward, moving you away from the urban fuss. I found it especially joyful when the beat dropped and piano was left alone for a short breath. This piece sounded a bit darker than the others to my ears, yet it was very dynamic and pleasant.

Flying” is a very spacious, almost minimalistic ambient track with piano playing a little jazzy motif. The sound of ocean waves crashing on a shore and a dreamy breathy female voice gave me the reminiscence of the first album by Enigma. I loved how bluesy inserts with chords contrast the singing and the melody.

The 7th track, called ”I will find you”, is very intense from the start, sounding like a pop song that could easily be filled with Duran Duran or Depeche Mode’s vocals. Instead, an Enya-like female voice comes in and gorgeously accompanies the classy piano. A slightly jazzy melody kept me unprepared for much darker trance in the second part of the track.

The next track, ”Talk to me”, sounds neo-classical to my ears, if only it were so easy to classify such colourful and unique music. I got a feeling of a departing train, accelerating, while the melody is echoing and building up to the synthesizers and piano parts. I particularly enjoyed the gentle strings under the emotional piano melody and the jazzy bass coming in later on, contrasting the brighter trembling of the piano.

What colour is love”, the ninth track, sounds like a classical waltz, almost Chopin or Griboyedov style – romantic and pure, coming from another century. It was an unexpected twist departing from the more modern sound of the previous tracks. But as the track progresses the mood changes entirely, switching to broken rhythms, with a two voice melody underscored by gentle strings. It was interesting how this track was built of almost independent parts and the finale of each part left me unprepared for the following mood.

Game over” is a blend of R&B and hip-hop styles, and one rather expects some rap voice to come in at any moment. Instead, you can hear an intelligent use of pizzicato strings, vibraphone, Church bells and other instruments.

The following ”Rainy thoughts” has a brilliant piano melody that left me breathless. With the ambient whispering of rain, it is a gem of a soundtrack, one of my favourite (if not THE favorite) tracks of this album.

The final track of the album, ”Daisi (Sunset)” is also very cinematic in its nature, blending both rock and classical styles. Great suspense and very enjoyable dialogue between two lines of piano melodies, in the high and low registers. My favourite part starts after 2 minutes, when the jazzy style comes in and the trumpet takes lead in this musical conversation.

To me this album is so colourful – in spite of the black and white cover artwork! Just as the black and white sheet music can’t tell you about the rainbow of sounds you are about hear, so too this voyage into Miranda’s charm offers an unforgettable blend of styles and innovations with cool vibes.

Album review by Milana Zilnik
Proof-reading by Arty Sandler