Herb Sundays 25: Helado Negro
The post-genre polymath and ultra-collaborator shares a tight, springy mix.
Roberto Carlos Lange, aka Helado Negro, has been crafting a boundless musical vision for over a decade.
I’ve been a fan of Lange’s since my colleagues Jeremy Daly and Jeremy Peters introduced me to his work and I was introduced to Lange 10 years ago when Ghostly’s Lord Raja asked to be linked up.
Lange is an artist perfectly suited to this moment for a number of reasons. For one, he’s a consummate collaborator, paying dues on the road and working with artists such as Julianna Barwick, L’Rain (See: Herb Sundays playlist 18) Prefuse73, Ela Minus, Kacy Hill, and members of Stereolab, Bear In Heaven, Wye Oak, and Wilco.
For me, the most remarkable aspect of Lange’s work is that it feels truly post-genre. It’s the mood and feel of the work that resonates most. It deals in pleasure without vapidity, and proudly affirms his Latinx identity in what was (and is) a very pale indie music space.
Lange expounds in a recent NPR interview: “I’m really bad with genre tags. So I don't really feel like much has changed, other than the things that I've tried to put [it] into perspective. The last record is very synthesized and very heavy with ambiance. There's a lot of acoustic guitar that's in there, but it doesn't really feel like a folk record, you know?”
In March 2020, after the release of his 2019 masterwork, This is How You Smile (on the herby RVNG label), and after returning from tour, Lange and his partner (the artist Kristi Sword, with whom he created The Tinsel Mammals (see video below), the silver creatures which often adorn his live shows) set off for Marfa, Texas just before the pandemic and worked on what would become his new album Far In on the 4AD label.
The mix connects dots in a similar ingenious way as his own albums. Acts like Mr. Twin Sister, Olof Dreijer of The Knife, and the unheralded Juana Molina give off Lange energy with springy beats and a potent atmosphere. The mix even kicks off with a track by ROM, Lange’s collaboration with drummer Matt Crum.
When asked for a mix prospectus, Lange offered this “If we all know the melody we can sing together.”