September 23rd, 2014 , by John Beeler
The music of Helado Negro travels unusually well. Florida-born, Brooklyn-based, Roberto Carlos Lange—the man behind the Helado Negro moniker—composes grooves that are the definition of cosmopolitan. His new, emphatically bilingual LP, Double Youth, effectively hybridizes musical elements from across the Western Hemisphere—traces of experimental electronica, hip-hop, dub, and a range of Latin musical languages—into something deeply personal and unique, but as close as one could imagine to a universal music. Double Youth can expect to find itself at home wherever it goes.
This fall, Helado Negro’s Double Youth is spanning the coasts in a marathon tour starting Friday, Sept. 19 at The Roxy in Los Angeles. For these first West Coast dates—L.A., San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, Seattle—Helado Negro is supporting sardonic pop symphonist and fellow Brooklynite Son Lux.
The second leg features the mesmerizing funk/soul of Sinkane—a singer-songwriter based in London and every bit as cosmopolitan as Helado Negro—and goes from Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on Oct. 5 through Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Charlottesville, VA; Asheville, NC; Louisville, KY; Chicago, IL; and Minneapolis, MN before returning to the West Coast.
After more dates in Washington, Portland, San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego, Helado Negro and Sinkane swing back up through Tucson, Phoenix, Austin, New Orleans, Birmingham, Nashville, Columbus and Pittsburgh, before the final show in New York, NY on Sunday, Nov. 2.
Also: Helado Negro’s live performance on WNYC’s Soundcheck is now available in the form of an audio stream at wnyc.org—featuring the songs “Are I Here,” “Ojos Que No Ven,” “Invisible Heartbeat,” and an insightful interview with host John Schaefer—plus two YouTube videos for the performances of “Invisible Heartbeat” and “Are I Here” in the Soundcheck studio.
The performances feature Helado Negro himself, Roberto Lange, on lead vocals and electronics, with guest vocals from Xenia Rubinos and a very special appearance from a trio of “tinsel dancers,” three literally scintillating backup dancers who must be seen to be believed.
September 2nd, 2014 , by John Beeler
Yes, Helado Negro is one of the kids on the cover of his new album, Double Youth. But he won’t say which one. A long-forgotten photo dug out of a childhood closet, this mysterious image encapsulates the themes of his latest record, released today: the duality and ambiguity of memory, identity, and self.
He communicates them with language, through the ambiguity of his lyrical content, the duality of his bilingualism, and even through a gentle warping of grammar itself: what Helado Negro, a.k.a. Roberto Lange, calls the “confused consciousness” of the opening track—”Are I Here”—is right there in the title, as the words’ refusal to agree with each other manages to be at once technically incorrect and oddly appropriate.
And perhaps more importantly, he communicates it in the rich dualities and ambiguities of the music itself. His arrangements are replete with fuzzy basslines, blurry beats, and a haze of dreamy vocals, but organized with tautly syncopated grooves and focused songcraft. Through the nuanced layering of spare, but discreetly nuanced elements, he creates something vastly more textured and complex than the sum of its parts.
Sasha Geffen at Pitchfork reviewed the album: “Fittingly, Double Youth, the boldest and most intricate Helado Negro work to date, grapples with memory and its uncanny tendency to wear away despite our best intentions to preserve it.”
Catch Roberto of Helado Negro on CNN yesterday here.
Double Youth arrives in a plethora of formats: CD, digital download, black LP, limited edition translucent blue LP, and an even more limited VIP edition of 100 translucent blue LPs sleeves decorated by hand—complete with those two enigmatic youths, printed on photo paper, plus more hand-made surprises inside.
Buy it here.
August 14th, 2014 , by John Beeler
IMPOSE debuted a new song from the forthcoming Helado Negro album. It’s called “Ojos Que No Ven.” Here’s what IMPOSE wrote about the song:
Mysterious and yearning, it’s filled with lusty calls that whisper “ámame” (“love me”) and is a desirous dweller that simmers with sticky synths and tropical-leaning percussion.
Double Youth is available in CD, LP, and digital. You can even preorder it in a special VIP handmade edition, limited to just 100 worldwide. Preorder it here.
Be sure to check out the latest video to “I Krill You” here.
July 22nd, 2014 , by John Beeler
Noisey has premiered Helado Negro’s latest music video, directed by Ryan Dickie and set to the album’s first single “I Krill You.” The video features Roberto Lange (aka Helado Negro) set against a projection of electronic nature: trees, bright lights, streamers, and lasers.
Helado Negro will be touring with Son Lux and Sinkane in the fall. See his tourdates here.
The album is out September 2. Limited edition blue vinyl, as well as VIP hand-made edition, are available to preorder here.
June 30th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Where does Helado Negro’s music come from? Awash in rich, ambient resonance, it seems to have emanated from someplace as remote as the future, or a distant memory.
But like all his music, Helado Negro’s new LP Double Youth was recorded in the place where he—Roberto Carlos Lange, a.k.a. Helado Negro—lives, in the home studio in his living room. And for all its sonic spaciousness, it’s also inescapably intimate.
Lange began work on Double Youth immediately after completing the last Helado Negro full-length, Invisible Life, during breaks from an enormous range of concurrent musical projects: along with Helado Negro material, he was creating experimental, conceptual works for performance by large ensembles.
And the funk/hip-hop tinged electronic grooves of Double Youth are experimental too, in a way: structurally, texturally, and rhythmically complex and unexpected. But the process of creating the album was about concision and directness, building songs out of of nothing but voice and electronics, and then paring away every inessential section from a piece of music to find the perfect pop song at its core.
The lyrics show him wrapping his head around subtle, often abstract concepts, and putting them in a language that’s easy to understand. Literally: Double Youth shows Helado Negro thinking bilingually, making the sound of his voice more present than ever, and singing lyrics—in Spanish and English—designed to transcend grammar and idiom to speak emotional truths directly to the listener.
Double Youth arrives on CD, LP, and digital on September 2. A VIP edition is available in limited quantities (just 100), hand-made and hand-numbered by Roberto Lange himself. A limited edition first-pressing in translucent blue is also available. Preorder those here.
To hear the first single, head over to FADER.
May 6th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Another transmission has just been received from the Island Universe: Helado Negro’s cryptic, nocturnal Island Universe Story series of EPs has given rise to two new music videos.
Gus Gavino directed “Pressed,” a track from the first Island Universe Story.
“Pressed” is a dark and abstract instrumental drawn from the first tape in the sequence, Island Universe Story One, and Gavino’s footage is dark and abstract to match: chilly, gray and distorted, like a sci-fi dystopia. It matches, in fact, in a one-to-one correspondence between sound and vision: every blip on the screen corresponds to a blip from the speakers.
But something unexpected happens when Gavino’s graphics meet the beats of Helado Negro. By playing out the interaction of the layered sonic elements in “Pressed” as the interaction of minimalistic visual elements, not only does Gavino illuminate the inner working’s of the original track, but the ghostly harmonies lend Gavino’s spare, geometrical visuals an uncanny pathos.
The Zircon Prince takes on “Suntan Overcoat” and “The Elephants Foot” with a jarring collage of images set on a striking visual placemat.
November 26th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Island Universe Story One and Two from Helado Negro, and the entire five-album epic from Land of a Thousand Rappers, are now available on quality, made-in-the-USA cassette tape.
Island Universe Story One comes in emerald green with gold emboss, while Two is a deep purple (also with gold emboss). You can buy
The five tapes from Land of a Thousand Rappers comes in a handmade, balsa wood storage box with laser-etched logo on front. The boxset, for $49, includes the book based on the Land of a Thousand Rappers universe, Zero Seed.
All our cassettes include emailed digital download, and a download card for your convenience. You can purchase the cassettes here, or by clicking below.
October 14th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Fresh from releasing the latest EP in his new, experimental Island Universe series, Brooklyn’s Helado Negro is taking leave of the East to bring his music on a micro-tour of performances from Washington to Southern California.
Along with an appropriately spare stage set designed by Paul Coors—the artist responsible for the artwork of his latest LP, Invisible Life—Helado Negro will be hauling his musical electronics and songs from Invisible Life, plus a handful of songs from his other records, to Seattle’s Barboza on Oct. 13, Portland’s Holocene on Oct. 14, the Bootleg Bar in L.A. on Oct 16, the Soda Bar in San Diego on Oct. 17, and then back up to San Francisco for an Oct. 23 show at the Rickshaw Shop.
Cy Dune, a project featuring Akron/Family’s Seth Olinsky, will be among the featured artists providing support at the Bootleg Bar, as will San Diego–based producer/performer Rafter at the Soda Bar, but the main event is strictly a one-man operation: his intimate live performances will be “just me,” says Helado Negro, “and my machines.”
View the new video for “Enters,” directed by Zircon Prince, below or by clicking here.
August 27th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Island Universe Story Two, out now, is the second in an ongoing series of EPs from Roberto Lange, a.k.a. Helado Negro. Not designed to “tease” or “build up to” or kill time between the Helado Negro albums, these releases shadow the LPs, moving darkly alongside them—and, like a shadow, may be more easily described by what they aren’t than what they are.
They aren’t outtakes or afterthoughts or byproducts or B-sides. These are fully filtered, distilled, unified recordings, chapters in a continuous narrative. They’re less like the flipside of a record than they are like the dark side of the moon: always present but (until now) just out of sight. “It’s a parallel to the continuum of the album,” explains Lange. They’re “something next to the albums, on kind of their own timeline,” a second stream, offering an alternate glimpse into Helado Negro’s ongoing process. Says Lange, “This is more of what I do. I’m really making music every day.”
But they aren’t exactly about that process, either. Two is underpinned by collaborations—the orchestral sound on the opening “Stop Living Dead,” for instance, was created with composer Trey Pollard and a double string quartet, and “Mitad del Mundo” features the talents of Wilco’s Mikael Jorgenson—but the Helado Negro project has never operated in a vacuum. From his headquarters in Brooklyn, Lange has always quick to point out the importance of other people, sometimes in other places, who have contributed to his music, and of the collaborative dynamic itself: some aspects of his process, says Lange, “are wildly free, and some of them are very structured and have a large amount of direction. It’s widely variable in terms of what freedoms are given and what control is taken.”
Ultimately, “I like the idea of process,” says Lange, “and then what happens on the other side, too. Both are important to me”—aesthetically satisfying product, as well as experimental process—and like any Helado Negro release, this latest chapter in the Island Universe Story delivers on both counts.
Preorder the cassette, due in late September, here.
April 11th, 2013 , by John Beeler
The inaugural podcast of a Bandcamp.com revamp features our very own Helado Negro.
We are big fans of Bandcamp, an online service that lets musicians release music directly to fans and one we use prolifically. The service revamped their front page this week, with a renewed focus on artists and creative content. Andrew Jervis, formerly of Ubiquity Records, is Bandcamp’s new “Chief Curator,” and he’ll be selecting content for their weekly podcast.
Helado Negro is in some good company in this first edition joining Hairy Hands, Baxamaxam, Wild Honey, Tramp Rec., and many other fantastic acts. We’re looking forward to the next installment of the podcast.
Oliver Barret tried his hand at illustrating Roberto Lange of Helado Negro, and we think he captured the spirit – and the hair – just right.
You can hear all of Helado Negro’s catalog for free (and buy his new record, Invisible Life, for $8) on Bandcamp right here.