Roberto Carlos Lange makes incredibly inviting music as Helado Negro (Spanish for “black ice cream”). Playing Coachella last year and being named a 2019 United States Artists fellow have shot him into a different type of spotlight, attracting new fans to his warm, familiar sounding vocals and electronic rifts. Despite the recent uptick in attention, Helado Negro has been busy making art and music for a long time (six albums and four EPs), and his perspective is unique. Born to Ecuadorian parents, growing up in Florida, graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design, and eventually landing in Brooklyn, Lange now carries an almost fatherly aura that draws people into his message.
If Lange is black ice cream himself, then his music is Neapolitan. Blending indie electronica, English and Spanish lyrics, and swirling in creamy synths, the end results are six highly listenable and tonally versatile albums. Part of the RVNG Intl. family, Lange released new album, This Is How You Smile, earlier this year. Considered by many to be his best yet, Lange’s well paced songs immediately draw you in. While his vocal style is often compared to Devendra Banhart’s, there’s also style akin to Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio. While his past work has explored issues of identity, his recent music has been more reflective and nostalgic.
Lange frequently works with other artists, including Sufjan Stevens, and has produced non-musical art that is just as noteworthy as his music. Those who’ve been say his live shows aren’t to be missed, as seen on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert featuring Lange with live instrumentation. If you’re searching for simple, yet refined fresh soundscapes, keep Helado Negro in your regular music rotation!