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Drawing from a rich variety of influences from the cradle to his crate digging years, Roberto C. Lange as Helado Negro cites influences such as Funkadelic, DJ Premiere, South American 60’s pop, Arthur Russell, Ecuadorean ballad singer Julio Jaramillo, and the production style of Adrian Sherwood in the early ON-U Sound releases. But when asked about his contemporaries, Roberto references all the players on the album, adding the names of visual artists David Ellis and Christian Marclay, two artists who implement elements of DJ culture in their work. This is apropos when listening to the record, which it seems as if the songs have been sculpted or painted.
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When describing his sound, Lange explains that most of the songs start as a simple idea like a loop from the MPC, recordings of himself playing guitar, field recordings re-processed in the computer, or sampling from vinyl. The music develops with the understanding that no idea is sacred, and each new element contributes, whether it’s kept or discarded as the song moves itself forward. The music is saturated with the glow of Latin music explorers like Os Mutantes, Tom Ze, and Arto Lindsay, while vocal influences range from Hector Lavoe to the Red Crayola’s Mayo Thompson, but Lange’s musical sensibilities derive more from instinct and emotion than stylistic identifiers. Throughout the album his vocals (with lyrics sung in Spanish), shrouded in wet reverbs and slappy delays, float above a weave of buoyant guitars and polyrhythmic sounds, conveying both transparent and abstract romantic-poetic ideas. The album title, Awe Owe, or AH! OH?, references Lange’s outlook on his past and future, “AH!” for realization and “OH?” for his understanding of how there is always much more to learn.