Other sides of Helado Negro's Roberto Carlos Lange | Bleader

Other sides of Helado Negro's Roberto Carlos Lange

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Roberto Carlos Lange
  • Roberto Carlos Lange
In this week's paper I have a Reader Recommends for Helado Negro, one of several projects from New Yorker Roberto Carlos Lange; he plays at the Hideout on Saturday with Maria Minerva and on Sunday he's at Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements opening for Bobby Womack. As I mention in my preview, Lange keeps busy with many disparate music efforts, and two of them have released work just as gripping and colorful as Helado Negro this year. In June the German label Pingipung released a new album by his duo with drummer Matt Crum called ROM, while Asthmatic Kitty just released the debut from a duo project with the ethereal singer Julianna Barwick called Ombre.

In the press materials for Foot Signal, the new ROM album, the duo claims to have made the music using "mostly broken instruments" played with their feet, which clarifies that neither Crum nor Lange take themselves too seriously. The duo's deep instrumental grooves owe a large debt to techno, but the live beats are attractively stuttery and human-sounding and eschew flat out four-on-the-floor patterns in favor of funky breaks. Lange layers terse patterns played on electric piano, synthesizer, vibraphone and glockenspiel, and guitar licks, all chopped up and rearranged as sonic building blocks. It's hard to miss a strong Tortoise flavor, particularly in Crum's playing—which sometimes seems sampled and looped—but ultimately the sound palette here is more minimal (parts of the album were recorded in town with Jeremy Lemos at the old Semaphore space). I suppose this is dance music, but it's dance music that can also function as listening music. Below you can check out a track with a less-than-appealing title that does little to convey the feel of the piece.

Ombre is a more varied project, not just because Lange and Barwick are joined by a slew of excellent guest musicians—including trumpeter Jacob Wick, saxophonist Matt Bauder, bassist Jason Ajemian, and harpist Shelley Burgon—but because the ten pieces on debut Believe You Me simply cover a much broader stylistic range, from the gorgeously shimmering opener "Noche Brilla Pt. 1," a hydroplaning blend of gentle harp glissandos, tender trumpet lines, and Barwick’s ethereal, reverb-drenched, wordless singing, to the calmly sashaying bossa feel of "Weight Those Words," which doesn’t sound far removed from his Helado Negro output (although Barwick's sweet background vocals give it an extra something). Nearly all of the music achieves a mixture of amniotic and celestial—warm and enveloping, chilly and drifting; neither canceling the other out—and even at its most elusive and meditative, it never feels less than substantial. Below you can watch the video for "Cara Falsa."

photo: Kolero Chavaldana

Today's playlist:

Rob Garcia 4, The Drop and the Ocean (BJU)
Pekka Tuppurainen, Röd/Blå (Aeon)
Tamco, Don’t Think Twice (Edition)
Jochen Rueckert, Somewhere Meeting Nobody (Pirouet)
MusikFabrik, Unerwartet (Wergo)

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