Release Date: Mar 5, 2013
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, International
Helado Negro has finally started to straddle the line between folk and electronic music well. Yes, you read that right. While folk music and electronic computer blips seem like opposite ends of the musical spectrum, Helado Negro make them seem like two genres that have always meant to be together. While Helado Negro’s 2009 record Awe Owe featured only acoustic Latin guitars and wispy, Spanish lyrics and his 2011 record Canta Lechuza was a (sometimes lazy) mixture between acoustic and electric sounds, Invisible Life, Helado Negro’s latest LP, balances acoustic and electric meticulously well.
After Canta Lechuza's spacy experiments, it seemed like anything was possible for Helado Negro's third album. So it comes as something of a surprise -- though not an unpleasant one -- that Roberto Carlos Lange returns to the subversively tropical-sounding territory of Awe Owe for much of Invisible Life. Not that these songs are a rehash of where he's been before; instead, he expands on his debut's warmth and sensuality with tracks like "Arboles," which bounces along with a sunny, unhurried charm.
It's tempting to claim that the Helado Negro of 2009's Awe Owe is unrecognizable in the Helado Negro of Invisible Life. The former was a softly warped, pastoral record with Spanish lyrics and prominent Latin guitar; the latter is a more urbane electronic pop record with lyrics in English and Spanish. But in every style Roberto Carlos Lange develops, a sultry, dreamy temperament remains apparent, from the shimmying cadences and simmered arrangements to his just-woken-up voice.
This is the third album from Helado Negro (aka Florida-raised Roberto Carlos Lange). In between Helado releases, Lange produces beats under the moniker Epstein, has collaborated with Julianna Barwick (as OMBRE) and produced for Prefuse 73. The hard work is clearly paying off, as this new release sees Helado Negro ("Black Ice Cream," in Spanish) return with tighter songwriting, pushing into a glitchier, more synth-heavy vein.
Since his last release as Helado Negro, 2011’s Canta Lechuza, Roberto Lange has worked in straight electronic beats as Epstein and produced smoky dream pop in a duo with Julianna Barwick called Ombre. While his earlier compositions rode the crest of the chillwave buzz, his new disc shows the effects of that diverse interlude. On Invisible Life, pop structures, hip-hop beats, sleepwalking synths, and Latin percussion percolate into one sensual, psychedelic dance party.