Pan Dulce Productions /
Cosmica Records, Chile
by Carlos Reyes
The first time Mariel Mariel contacted us she introduced herself as “Mariel, la chilena chilanga.” The title fits her well. She’s become a distinguished musician for Mexico’s cream of the crop indie acts (particularly as part of the band that accompanies Carla Morrison) and has slowly, but determinedly, pushed inward her solo project. Although she has yet to massively breakthrough in the same way her peers or compatriots have, Mariel Mariel has built a bit of a cool underdog status (something that has allowed her to venture from one genre to another). Mariel’s latest EP Foto Pa Ti is a significant departure from the disco diva and melodic chanteuse paths she’s surveyed in her two first references, No Me Despierten! and La Musica Es Buena. And it’s an abrupt, head-scratching (yet smart) reconstruction. Her crossing over to urban pop opens a query on credibility, posture, and appropriation, all of which seem to be confronted (to some degree) in her new EP, the very entertaining Foto Pa Ti.
There’s no denying this new phase of Mariel Mariel is in need of articulation. “Foto Pa Ti” (and its accompanying lyric video) screams Rita Indiana in both sound and aesthetics (who could ever forget that video for “El Blu del Ping Pong”?). But stripped down from its tropical frenzy, “Foto Pa Ti” is still admirable in structure and its tailored wittiness (besides, EPs are meant to be vessels for confessing the references upfront). Songs like the seductive “Noche Noche” and catchy first single “Tirame Un Beso” reveal a lyrical imagery that is sensual and populist, but it’s missing that tragic resonance that recent mantra mavericks (Leidi Li, Valentina Fel) have delivered to us. Foto Pa Ti (produced by Latin Grammy winner Sonido Landon) also includes a collaboration with the EP’s executive producer Carla Morrison (under her Pan Dulce Productions imprint) and a quite amusing maximalist cover for Juan Cirerol’s narcotically poetic “Toque y Rol.” It will take Mariel a proper full-length album to aptly resolve the eyebrow-raising query, but the potential for something big (and geographically significant) is certainly there.