Cripta y Vida, Pedro Piedra
by Pierre Lestruhaut
Being a music fan is a little like being a child with multiple Christmases a year. Everyone can remember how much they always anticipated that exciting day where they would finally find out if they got those amazing things they’d been craving to have for months, yet there was always some kind of uncertainty, that small chance of having a difference between what a toy or video game looks like in its box and the actual experience of playing with it. It’s roughly similar to how music fans build a huge excitement, perhaps too easily sometimes, every time an artist drops a truly awesome lead single, thinking that this inherently means a stunning album is awaiting them.
But without making this a reflection on how we perceive music in the internet era, Pedropiedra’s lead single for Cripta y Vida, the amazing “Vacaciones en el más allá”, had indeed everything to make us think that a great follow-up to that amazing debut was headed for us. While not displaying much of a stylistic change in comparison to pretty much everything on Pedropiedra, “Vacaciones...” was yet another captivating exercise of how Pedro Piedra embraces the traditional approach of the singer-songwriter or “cantautor” style, without resigning to show his great skills as a pop song craftsman, always putting together small pieces of separate musical styles in an irrational manner. And it’s through that irrationality that songs like “Vacaciones” and “Inteligencia Dormida” truly excel, in how Pedro Pedra puts his rap roots to the service of great storytelling and rhyming over a funky base on “Inteligencia Dormida”, or in that out-of-nowhere synth line in “Vacaciones...” which would seem to fit more in a Justice record than in the lead track of a chilean pop album.
Yet when we finally started to discover the rest of Cripta y Vida, it actually seemed to lack significantly on that ability in song-crafting that would make Pedropiedra a CF favorite. In fact, many of the songs see him being content of settling for either a troubadour-like acoustic performances (“De Quien”, “Occidental”), or for some average efforts falling easily under the clichés of “rock en español” (“La Cripta” and “Se Fue”), while abandoning some of the more appealing aspects of his debut such as the self-aware and comedic storytelling, the fearless genre fusioning, the stunning vocal arrangements. Cripta y Vida does feature some very stimulating tracks though, think the awesome “Uyuyuy” with its beautiful chord progression and that great vocal harmonization around the “Uyuyuy ayayay” repetition in the song’s chorus. And think also “En Esta Mansión”, a pretty good Cerati-reminiscent track that lyrically delves into that old human incongruity through which wealth and boredom are often strongly related to each other.
In spite of the few great tracks Pedro Piedra offers in his sophomore album, I think I’ve made it clear that the feeling around this album is pretty ambivalent, kinda like waking up on a Christmas morning finding out that what you were anticipating so much isn’t quite what you were expecting, and there’s that feeling that something is missing, that there was a lot of potential for something much better. Like Carlos Reyes said to me: "it’s not a bad album whatsoever, it's just a modest follow up that first phenomenal record."
Cripta y Vida, Pedro Piedra