My Own Private Alaska
Crank this to 8.5 of 11
Experimental, Piano-core, Screamo
Sounds Like:
La Dispute, At The Drive In
Piano-core? As this may not really be a genre, it’s what some may call the style of music from My Own Private Alaska (MOPA). This non-traditional hardcore three-piece ensemble from France features a setup of vocals, piano and drums, nothing more. Having the absence of the guitars and bass actually provides a more captivating, dark sound. There is also a sense of improvisation here as each song is complex with touches of jazz-like piano structures, math rock style drumming and the screamo-like vocals of Milka.

When we talk about the vocals, we compare them to the works of bands like La Dispute meets At The Drive-In meets Norma Jean. Now, we know it sounds overwhelming, but he pulls it off, as his gut-wrenching, in-your-face style will make you feel his pain, a pain that is reflected very well throughout this album. And not to forget, there are plenty of echoed effects and subtle background vocals here, as when it comes to unique vocals arrangements, we at Rotation11 are suckers.

The mixing of classical compositions and math-like hardcore can seem unusual and it is, yet oddly enough, it works. It’s obvious MOPA wanted to create a vision of emotional and desperate landscapes on Amen. It can make you feel uncomfortable and angry at times, than on a turn of a dime, it’s soothing and sad, it’s quite an emotional trip.

The CD begins with "Anchorage", a theatrical, classical piece that is driven by the spoken word from Milka. The subtle arrangements eventually build with more percussion and intensified vocals that turn into screams, it’s a hell of an opener. "After You" starts with a very tight drum section and is followed by the infectious piano. These first two tracks show you what you're in for and it's something quite unique. The song "Die for Me" is equally as good as there is a ton of emotion here. The remake of the old folk song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night", is not so folky here, yet it’s dynamic; a great cover. "Broken Army", "I Am An Island", "Page Of A Dictionary" and "Ode To Silence" is where we find a more of an improvisation approach; these songs can take you anywhere.

The more we listen to Amen, the more impressed we are with the level of talent offered here. We love the fact that they are just so original and are not afraid to explore and mix together two polar opposite genres (or are they so opposite?), not according to MOPA. Give ‘em a chance and add them to your rotation, you will not hear anything like this.

Standout Tracks: Anchorage, Where Did You Sleep Last Night
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