May 6th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Island Universe Story: Selected Works is out today. The record is a compilation of a few songs from the many cassette tapes from Helado Negro’s Island Universe Story series. We pressed this on tinsel vinyl, and we have some left if you’d like to pick one up. Ten silver, seventy-seven red, seventy-six blue, and seven clear. Your local record should have some as well.
What is the tinsel? What does it represent?
If the Island Universe Story cassettes were subconscious representations of other worlds in his and our shared imagination, this limited edition vinyl represents the leakiness between those worlds. Some of the records contain silver threads, the sheddings of those dreamy beasts that have joined him on stage in cities all over the world, animated by new friends in each venue where Helado Negro has performed.
February 16th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Human and machine also grow closer in Helado Negro’s Island Universe Story: Selected Works. Created alongside his recent performed work, the album compiles songs chosen from three “Island Universe Story” cassette tapes released between 2012-2014. If the tapes represent the subconscious exploration of other worlds in Helado Negro’s imagination, then this record, with its clear vinyl embedded with tinsel, suggests a certain leakiness between those dimensions. Some of the records contain silver threads, the sheddings of his Tinsel Mammals that have joined him on stage in cities far and near. Other records in this limited edition series contain the remnants or rumor of further realms, with the blue, gold, or multi-colored metallic sweepings left behind by creatures we haven’t yet met and can only imagine. Perhaps the tinsel itself recalls the actual, ionized tape, pulled from their original cassettes.
The album begins with a soft march in “We Will You,” building louder and joined by a fully present being pronounced in marble mouthed vocoder. Recognizable as spoken language, yet indecipherable, this voice meets another, legibly human, and we’re game for more, “you’re a strange impossible feeling, let’s go strange impossible stealing.” From here each song offers a sketch of a unique land within the same cosmos. On “Enfocando“ Lange dreamily repeats the Spanish word for “focusing,” perhaps unconvinced that he should find gravity through the jaunty distractions of a spacy lounge or field of blooming curiosities. All electro save for Lange’s well-deployed heavy breathing, oohs and ahs, “Detroit” evokes an exhilarating night drive on empty wide-laned roads, while “Mamember” and “Salve Nada” each find at times a softer squish and ooze, an organic, fleeting, tactility. While primarily composed in solitude, the intimate wandering continues in the orchestral swarm of “Stop Living Dead,” created with composer Trey Pollard and a double string quartet and “Mitad del Mundo” featuring the talents of Wilco’s Mikael Jorgenson.
Limited to 1,000 pressings of a variety of colors with art work by Paul Coors, the album immediately suggests a relic loosed from a dream. Set into motion Island Universe Stories: Selections carries us into the dark to find galaxies within galaxies, the human, the machine, the space between. We let go of charting the stars in resolute focus, and greet mysteries with wonder.
March 20th, 2015 , by John Beeler
On Saturday March 21st, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series will debut a very special performance by AKR mainstay Helado Negro. MPR News spoke with Roberto Carlos Lange aka Helado Negro to learn more about the performance. “I make things difficult,” Roberto told MPR News.
Nearly twenty people will be on stage for the performance. The performance will involve tinsel, and so much more. The concert takes place in the brand new 1,000-seat Ordway Concert Hall.
Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Jason Trammell of David Byrne’s band, and Wilco’s Mikael Jorgenson will be helping fulfill the Helado Negro version of Island Universe Story.
Tickets are going fast. Get them here.
EDIT: DONE. You missed it.
Helado Negro http://t.co/vd8qKNQ2LH
— EmDub (@StartsEndsMpls) March 22, 2015
February 12th, 2015 , by John Beeler
Helado Negro is also playing in NYC at the Ecstatic Music Festival on February 18th, and at the Liquid Music Series with an 18 piece ensemble in St. Paul on March 21st.
Also just released is an incredible music video to Helado Negro’s “Ojos Que No Ven.” This project was hand crafted by a talented group of 9 to13 years olds during a very intense 2 week summer camp with the NYCICFF (New York City Independent Children’s Film Festival) and the @TheGoodSchool. Art Teachers helping out were William “Zoe” FitzGerald & Maya Erdelyi.
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.