Words by Evan La Ruffa, Images by Angie Mejia
“Ilumina Vos” pulsates and settles you in, creating the perfect combination of pulsating rhythm and fuzzed out tones, before fading quickly, and yielding to the drums of “Lentamente“. Translated directly, the track title means, ‘slowly,’ which really couldn’t epitomize the bouncing openness of the song any better. Synths create necessary counterpoints, as Helado Negro fades into his forte, which happens to melding sounds we’d expect to filter in quickly, and juxtaposes them with his sonic heritage.
The son of Ecuadorian immigrants and growing up in South Florida, Roberto Lange is the product if a rich and geographically varied equation. That fact is plain in his various releases, as vocals bounce back and forth between English and Spanish. The albums’ first single, “Dance Ghost” ushers in the truly magical, as hi hats and snares fill spaces for one another, as the refrain transports the listener to a new world entirely. When the lyrics filter into your brain, you realize you’re no match for the beauty this man is isolating in sound form. “There’s no one home, just a ghost that danced alone” … “Arboles” leads one out of the middle of the record, as the beat trudges to the vocals, “atras de ti, atras de ti” (behind you, behind you), and feels like walking out from the woods into a halcyon clearing. Female vocals serenade the outro of the song, as a silent pause directs us into the slow wub of “Relatives,” which is undoubtedly a principal actor in this records’ brilliance. Keys and bass balance out a wobble, as claps pacify the various incumbent parts. “Junes” is about as concise of an endorsement of Helado Negro’s vibe, tendencies, and acumen as one could ask for. The man is clearly dedicated to the delicate interplay between rhythms from varied longitudes.
Invisible Life proves that synths need not get ahead of themselves, and that while the internet is a flood, it also enables curious minds to engage and create skillfully. The ability to dip ones toes in the exotic notion of existing simultaneously in imperfect worlds, is in our opinion, what makes Helado Negro’s sounds such an encouraging and worthy breakthrough.