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.
March 5th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Invisible Life, the third full-length from Helado Negro, is available today. Purchasing options are here.
Heather Phares at AllMusic wrote that “It’s the hypnotic pull of even [Helado Negro’s] simplest songs, like the lonely and lovely ‘Dance Ghost,’ that makes his music special. Invisible Life reaffirms that Lange can keep that quality, regardless of which direction he takes Helado Negro in next.”
You might also want to watch this video of Roberto of Helado Negro working with Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen to create a brand new song. See below or over on Shaking Through.
[vimeo width=”542″ height=”300″]https://vimeo.com/59611209[/vimeo]
January 22nd, 2013 , by John Beeler
“There’s no one home, just the ghosts who dance alone.”
The FADER just premiered a new video from Helado Negro of “Dance Ghost,” the first single from Invisible Life. Directed by David W. Merten, of GHAVA, the video follows an individual who moves throughout Miami as if in a daydream. As he progress through the surreal landscape of Miami, he is mostly in the background. [vimeo width=”542″ height=”231″]https://vimeo.com/57236809[/vimeo] Says Roberto Lange of Helado Negro: “They are ghosts to maybe most who are usually trying to create the least amount of resistance when trying to survive in the US due to the many instances of inhumane treatment of illegal immigrants in the US. The song may be saturated in ambiguous synth tones, but the reality of living somewhere or being somewhere where others want everything about you but you, is what haunts them.” Preorder the CD or LP of Invisible Life here.
November 29th, 2012 , by John Beeler
From the room he grew up in, in South Florida, to his apartment in Savannah, and now in his current home in Brooklyn, Roberto Lange of Helado Negro has never not made music. Tones whittled out of these places, memories, time and all its impressions, Invisible Life is Helado Negro’s third full-length album. Like captured light, it is a reflection of Helado Negro’s refined love affair with synthesis, sampling, and his own strengthening voice.
Singing in Spanish, as well as English, Helado Negro is a bilingual tour guide into the transcendent zone of wavelength where music is mutually transacted bouncing between artist and listener. Assisting in this transaction are contributions from collaborators including Bear in Heaven’s Jon Philpot, Mouse on Mars’ Jan St. Werner, Devendra Barnhart, Matt Crum and Eduardo Alonso. Each help multiply the whispered dream of Helado Negro into a full-spectrum technicolor existence.
In the way of artists like Caetano Veloso, The Sea and Cake, and even Sade, Helado Negro floats beyond his own identity into that democratic forest of shape and color.
Helado Negro’s Invisible Life is out March 5th, 2013. Until then, please enjoy “Dance Ghost” on Pitchfork by clicking here.
June 7th, 2012 , by John Beeler
A beautiful thing happened when Helado Negro and Julianna Barwick first met: they got to know each other. The result, a collaborative band, OMBRE, and a brand-new full-length record, Believe You Me out on August 21st.
OMBRE has released their first single, entitled “Cara Falsa,” and it brilliantly showcases the ambient and programmed electronic side of this record, with a synthy space jam of pure oscillating ascendance,
What else can we expect from Believe You Me? Its ten tracks are very much the sound of two solo artists, each bringing a distinctive style, vibe, and voice to the mix. Recorded as the newly acquainted pair were just becoming friends, OMBRE shows Barwick’s clear, high harmonies and church choir sensibilities meld well with Helado Negro’s rustic-Latin-psyche-folk meets big-city-blockparty.
We’re excited to bring it to you come August. Until then, enjoy “Cara Falsa” below.