The room was pitch black, full of people and dead silent. Angelo Pierattini y Las Calaveras Errantes ("The Wandering Skulls") quietly took the stage, their spooky silhouettes barely visible as they settled into position.
(angelopierattiniylascalaveraserrantes-af-1.jpg Photo by Daniela Stevenson)
The group remained motionless as a countdown mechanically ticked. At zero, a burst of black lights turned them into a band of fluorescent skeletons that slammed into the first track.
(angelopierattiniylascalaveraserrantes-af-3.jpg Photo by Daniela Stevenson)
The musicians’ "bones" floated with the white reflective paint that covered their appendages and faces. Under flashing strobe lights and skulls hanging from the ceiling, the band of carcasses jammed on orange and purple instruments in the dark, as if singing their souls away before diving into the grave.
When I didn’t have goose bumps, I had chills.
“My dreams are coming true,” Pierattini said after the show. “It’s incredible.”
Released in November 2008, the group's premiere album Vol. 1 splashes a dramatically bright yet jarring bucket of colors on the Chilean music canvass. The opening track “Tantas Melodías" (So many melodies) revs up with fast, gritty mechanical rock, while the lighter “Ángel del Tambor" (Angel of the drum) places more emphasis on piano and vocals. In “Tontos Bichos de Hoy" (Stupid beasts of today) and “Desdeñoso" (Disdainful) Pierattini goes solo on acoustic guitar and conveys the pain of a suffering skeleton, grinding away in a skin-filled world.
(angelopierattiniylascalaveraserrantes-af-8.jpg Photo by Daniela Stevenson)
Lead singer Pierattini plays lead guitar and piano while his supporting cast of skulls assists with backup vocals, electric guitar, bass, piano, organ, drums, bongos and occasionally trumpet and viola. Las Calaveras Errantes are composed of Diego Ormazabal (drums), Pablo Ilabaca (piano, organ), Leo Guzman (bass, contrabass), Isabel Vasquez (viola), Orlando Miranda (tambourine, piano, congos), Daniel Espinoza (trumpet) and Felipe Ilabaca (bass).
Pierattini recruited his accompanying Skulls from diverse regions of Chile’s musical landscape. Most of the musicians, including Pierattini, have roles in other bands, but all feel privileged to be part of Angelo’s skull-dancing crusade.
“It’s great because we are a true band,” drummer Diego Ormazabal said. “We all believe in each other.”
Artists like Angelo Pierattini y Las Calaveras Errantes are painting the new face of Chilean music as they find their own colors. There’s a teeming pulse in the veins of Santiago’s music scene and this band is one of the best ways to feel it.