By Carlos Reyes
Daniel Rivero better known as Gepe is today’s leading man in that very special and continuously surprising Chilean indie scene. So many times regarded as a pupil of Chilean icons Victor Jara and Jorge Gonzalez, he proves to be as essential for our generation in his latest album Audiovision, the work of genius. Starting his career with Gepinto, already a cult classic, means to have a massive weight under his shoulders, but Gepe’s miraculous abilities are subdued to his sensibilities, not only are his songs sincere, they speak about the man and the people and the land around him. If he had already shown flexibility in his two previous albums, his latest continues that breed of epic and sophisticated chants, those slices of intense rush that find themselves at a privileged spot in Gepe’s vision of high pop-art.
Gepe exposed a whole new group of Latin-American youth to Chile’s folk by diligently embedding it to the sprawling songs in Gepinto, he later redefined his own notions (and nations) with the risky and ultimately brilliant Hungria. The new album carries on with the two principles, balancing folk and dancehall in unspeakable manners, keeping the descriptive detail he is known for, the observational study of music form we’ve been celebrating about the new Chilean song. The way Gepe expresses affection by setting up a step-by-step structure is mind-blowing. The opening piece “Amigos Vecinos” shows as much generosity and motivation as a community’s call for action. The song describes the friendliest scene, people popping up (to claps on loop) owning a place or a cause, “cuando un lugar ya no es tu lugar sino de todos los demas, tu cara se pone feliz,” sure sounds like the nicest way to show appreciation to anyone answering your call or showing up to your concert.
Audiovisión isn’t much about finding space for exploration, it’s already there; it’s time for the songs, it’s about the songs and for the songs. It’s a splendid ride that feels so close from encountering true definition of the dimensional purpose of the song as a format. “Por La Ventana” serves as a suggestion to let the window of your room and yes, the heart and the mind open, let it be the escape for the dirty laundry we painfully carry and take advantage of the ventilation it provides to sing “alto, sigo, me voy, y ahora me siento major asi.” But what truly makes this single special is the embodiment of Gepe’s personality revealed in this one song; it’s a platform of Gepe the folk-agricultural man, the modern disquieting kid, and the hip hop enthusiastic in him.
Songs like “Alfabeto” and “La Bajada” are well condensed in bundled strings, resembling the timeless “Namas” and its topics on domestic gratification, all while embracing pop music elements with turbulent, collapsing clutches tracing back to Phil Spector. “Estado de Vista” is like a beautiful response to “Por La Ventana”, a front-end piece with politically striking lyrics, it features wonderful guest vocals from fellow Chilean chanteuse Fakuta. The anticipated Javiera Mena-Gepe reunion is becomes reality in “Lienza”, their sublime “Sol de Invierno”, this time they go straight for a smoky suspension that lifts them up to a height where they’re talking about transforming, transcribing, and repairing whatever is preventing them from catching the boat, “y es que siempre viaja solo, como una sola gran idea.” One of the album’s peaks comes with a reconstruction of “Victoria Roma,” a track from his last release Las Piedras EP. This time he gives the track motion and a lot of depth, enough to call it romantic travelogue. “Ayelen” is equally touching, devastating and features what’s probably Gepe’s most subtle moment yet.
“Salon Nacional de Tecnologias” is beyond stunning; it’s an immediate anthem we can actually hear light up and run its course through ageless techno. Gepe’s voice and chromatic strings have rarely been this handy in capturing a nation’s commonalities with its region (la region Sureña). The idiosyncratic of this song hallows in the best of celebratory music, when you add Jorge Gonzalez (my idol) to such eventful track, they really own the key to the arts. Like “Salon Nacional de Tecnologias”, Audiovisión is monumental in celebrating the collective pyramid of audiovisual arts (“que algo se borre o se vuelva a entender”) and humanizing it to the point of singing about its optimum freedom “no es mision de algunos, es parte de todos, es amor de alguien por venir.” I wouldn’t dare to say this is Gepe’s finest hour just yet, but it’s yet another knockout from a guy clearly ahead of his game and yet so in tune with his generation, Gepe "de estilo internacional."