tue 23/04/2024

CD: Helado Negro - Canta Lechuza | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Helado Negro - Canta Lechuza

CD: Helado Negro - Canta Lechuza

A texturally subtle mix of world music and electronica that seduces by stealth

Heladu Negro - Music For Bath Time

How refreshing it is to learn of an album the recording of which was fuelled by black tea rather than, say, marijuana. Although having said that – given the heady, languorous music that Brooklyn’s Roberto Carlos Lange (aka Helado Negro) has come up with - I’d like to think that at least a smidgen of the world’s most popular illicit substance was also involved.

But perhaps it was just the natural high brought on by a decampment to rural Connecticut - where he apparently sat in the forest “centring himself” – which contributed to the otherworldly ambience.

The press release describes the music as “danceable” but I’d say it is only danceable if you’re a zombie on its last legs. Yes, it’s rhythmic – polyrhythmic even – with each track in fact built from the ground up out of discrete electronic burps, bubbles, buzzes and clunks. However, the aim of the music seems to be to calm rather than excite (an impression supported by the photo of Roberto in the bathtub on the cover). Bizarrely, the press release also compares Lange’s voice to Bowie and Peter Murphy. But actually he sounds much more like a Spanish Bryan Ferry, crooning almost as if to himself in that sleepy Ferry way, pulling the prettiest of melodies out of the slow-moving lava flow of his textural rich backing tracks.

My only criticism would be that, even after a dozen or so plays, none of the songs really asserts its individual identity. Each is there, like a tone poem, to be a part of the sustained atmosphere of the whole, making this very much an album in the good old-fashioned sense of the world. But to return to that oh so appropriate CD cover photo. If Brian Eno made an album called Music For Bath Time I’d like to think it would sound like this. The back cover shows Lange staring intensely at an owl. I don’t know what that’s all about.




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