Private Energy is the fifth album from Roberto Carlos Lange a.k.a. Helado Negro. Written and produced by Lange, Private Energy is an interpersonal communication of sounds about his surroundings past, present, and future. In fourteen tracks, Private Energy coalesces into a truly established musical voice.
For the past thirteen years, Lange has created music under a variety of monikers that have allowed him to express and explore experimentation in sound, performance, and music. When he moved to New York City in the mid-2000s, Lange became Helado Negro. It was in New York where Lange began to sing for the first time — at age 28. The development of his voice is chronicled through each Helado Negro release, an evolving collection of delicate pop songs punctuated by his singular style of singing in both English and Spanish.
Private Energy, which follows 2013’s Invisible Life and 2014’s tour de force Double Youth, continues the work Lange has done as an artist, culminating in the most captivating artistic statement of his career. The music draws from his expansive knowledge of sampling, sound synthesis, recording and history of references, and the album was created as a performance piece in tandem with his Tinsel Mammal dancers. Present at each Helado Negro show, the Tinsel Mammal dancers, costumed head-to-toe in silver strands, are a visual representation of sound and a sensual gateway to profoundly personal lyrics. The Tinsel Mammals are not representative of any human form. They work as a shimmering objects that represent the ideas of genderless and raceless beings and Private Energy’s themes of self-love, pride, and the embrace of constant change.
Five songs into Private Energy, when Roberto Lange spins from Spanish canto to English singing so gently the unilingual forget they don’t speak both, he recites the words of a robot.
“No love can cut our knife in two.”
Pulled from an Isaac Asimov story (as is the song’s name “Runaround”), the phrase is the poetic result of the machine’s cognitive dissonance when presented with a task that breaks two programmatically intrinsic laws of its existence: 1)obey orders and 2)don’t hurt yourself. Until engineers intervene, the robot is going in circles, quite literally and wildly verbally. For Helado Negro, it’s easily a sing-along, maybe a come-on, and somehow a mantra — and it’s spoken in that in-between language that Lange has developed over a decade of, in his own words, “organizing sounds to make music.”