Bilingual Latin-American artist Helado Negro, who is known for his black and brown affirming songs “Young, Latin, and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin,” also has a sort of “bilingual” aspect when it comes to his sonic makeup. His songs are equal part acoustic and electric, often incorporating synthesized beats and sounds to stunning effect.
On his upcoming record, Phasor, which he started working on as far back as 2019, he took on the challenge of learning the complex synthesizer machine “Sal-Mar,” developed by American composer Salvatore Martirano, which can create an infinite number of sound sequences. And his adventures in sound and voice continue a solid legacy in American and Latinx music.
Steering away from songs about personal trauma and identity, to songs that are sometimes fictional and always supremely moving, Carlos Lange opens the album with the song, “LFO,” or “Lupe Finds Oliveros.” It is a fictional song, imagining if Lupe Lopez, an important musical technician, and Oliveros, an ambient music pioneer who developed a philosophy known as Deep Listening, spent time together. Their conclusion when they meet and work together is “Ya sé quién soy,” or “I know who I am!” That is the one defining characteristic of Helado Negro’s music, whatever album you listen to: he certainly knows and accepts himself wholeheartedly, no matter how far out of the mainstream he finds himself. And he brings us all along for the wonderful, life-affirming ride.
There is an adventurousness to his electronic-acoustic music, but also a wholesomeness. Like the clever second song, which instead of repeating a phrase you might hear in much of pop music these days, “I just wanna sleep with you,” is entitled “I Just Want To Wake Up With You.” Waking up, to the possibilities of life, music, and love, is what Helado Negro’s music is about. The fact that half of his songs are in the Spanish language does nothing to dampen the exhilarating and meditative effect of his music. He just wants what’s “Best For You and Me,” and this album is certainly reflective of his ever-searching, ever-experimenting spirit.
There is something understated about Lange’s music, with his soft voice and often subtle arrangements, but while he remains somewhat formulaic in his songs, there is always something ecstatic and transcendent about his music, as well. It is another solid offering from an artist that 4AD has trusted to bring the American-Latinx flavor to the world. I think it will be well received by his fans and certainly bring others into the fold. It is a thrilling, if pretty chill album of songs.
Pre-order Phasor by Helado Negro HERE
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