We released Helado Negro’s Canta Lechuza
in May. Roberto Carlos Lange - the brain and brawn behind Helado Negro - is one of the most prolific musicians on Asthmatic Kitty. In person, he’s calm, cool, sublime, but if you were to judge him by his work output you’d think he were a hermit, a workaholic, holing up 24 hours a day to make music. It’s hard to tell just how he pulls it all off. But he does.
, though just Helado Negro’s second release, is Roberto’s nth release. Honestly, we stopped counting. Sometimes quality is inversely related to quality, but this is definitely not the case for Roberto. This record sounds mature and refined. It’s Roberto discovering the identity of Helado Negro and then skirting over it, flirting with it, turning it over like a Rubick’s Cube. It’s Roberto confident in his voice, in its limitations and range. Canta Lechuza
retains the playfulness of Awe Owe
, but is less sweaty-summer/cold beer, more black tea on woodburning stove. And gone is the more obvious Latino framework of Awe Owe
. What it lacks in that immediate worldliness, it makes up for with subtle confidence. That makes it a little less immediately approachable at first, but any amount of digging rewards listeners with a song like “2º Dia” - an expertly written song, hypnotic and evocative of the best of the 80s: the sound exploration of David Sylvian, or Peter Gabriel’s flirtations with Latino and African music. In July, a little late to the party, Synconation rightly called
the song “a study in the power of restraint within music.” So true.
Most records have short shelf-lives these days. But after an initial lifespan here in the States, Canta Lechuza
spread wings and flew south for the winter and is enjoying something of a re-discovery in Mexico and Latin America. Back in August, Club Fonograma reviewed
the album and loved it, calling it an album “that is simply beyond our time.” The record is #12 in Panamerika’s best of 2011
, and “Lechuguilla” is one of their favorite tracks
. Helado Negro is one of NPR Alt.Latino’s favorite artists this year
. And Wax Poetics has a great video feature
on Helado Negro, exploring his characteristic synthesis of Latino music and electronic beatmaking.
Roberto took a bit of flack for holing up in a cabin to make Canta Lechuza
because another slightly better selling cabin-made album
made cabins a cliché, but honestly, Roberto is about as urban as they come. He lives in the heart of Brooklyn and he absorbs all its stories. He hears them, and then they live in him, in his beard, in his belly, in his brain. Sit with him long enough and you’ve heard stories so well-told you’ll share them too, which means they’re not only good, and funny, but that Roberto has endowed them with meaning and morality that speaks to your soul. He’s good at this because he has a keen ear. The best musicians do; they don’t just make music, they don’t just produce objects for us to consume. They hear the world in its sprawling chaos and then output it in a more organized form for the rest of us. We call that music. And this is what Helado Negro has done with Canta Lechuza
: he’s made music.
currently on sale for $4.99 on Amazon
. Backstory on the record is here
Live at Union Pool
, created by William “Zoe” Fitzgerald
Directed by Santa Maria
” Directed by Gus Gavino
” Animated by Gala Bent
Kill Screen, by Filipe Salgado