Helado Negro is the nom de plume of the mercurial Roberto Lange, a multimedia artist who also serves as one-third of Prefuse 73’s amazing Savath & Savalas project, as well as a go-to collaborator with the likes of Bear in Heaven and Julianna Barwick. Due to the great cosmic injustice of hype, Lange has yet to achieve indie cult hero status. Not that he probably cares, but it’s still too damn bad. However, Canta Lechuza might help propel him a bit more to the forefront, where he belongs.
For non-Spanish speakers, Helado Negro translates to “Black Ice Cream,” one of the finest examples of truth in advertising. Canta Lechuza is informed by sweltering heat and the late afternoon sun juxtaposed against the vast vacuum of space. Sparse, whimsical, and saturated in hazy tape echo, Lange’s newest full-length is a subdued summertime score. As Lange incorporates organically-tinged experimental electronics, reverb, and lyrics sung in his ancestral tongue (Lange’s parents are from Ecuador), Canta Lechuza will surely translate fans of El Guincho and Coconot. However, Helado Negro is geographically vague, which is perhaps one of its impressive elements. Canta Lechuza explores glitch electronica (“Oreja de Arena”), West Coast psychedelia on a Moon Safari (“2º Dia”), cosmic funk (“Con Suerte”), and tropicalia (“Regresa”) with equal vigor and reverence.
Increasingly lost in the hyperkinetic digital age is the art of the cohesive album. Canta Lechuza has no particular stand-out moments, as its entire 40-minute beach party with the Sirens of Titan plays as one multi-wave, highly focused listening experience. This is the feeling that a lot of the chillwave dudes in ’09 and ’10 attempted to cultivate and failed. Lange is the real deal, and he did it without suffocating synths and overcompressed beats. Canta Lechuza is an exercise in less-is-more, exclusively utilizing minimal beats, analog-heavy flourishes, and Lange’s understated and uplifting vocal melodies – all while exploring shards of eclectic and familiar sounds with panache.
Canta Lechuza just dropped today via Asthmatic Kitty. Go grip it.
Helado Negro – Regresa