Roberto Carlos Lange, aka Helado Negro, returns this week with a new record, Double Youth, his fourth album for stalwart indie label Asthmatic Kitty. The former Prefuse 73 and Julianna Barwick collaborator has made a name for himself creating dreamy, IDM-inflected electro, delivering a prolific stream of recordings for more than a decade.
Helado Negro’s new album for the most part starts where 2013’s Canta Lechuza left off, with a fresh batch of stuttering break-beats and pulsating synth patterns to provide a backdrop for Lange’s hushed vocals. The biggest departure from Lechuza is the obvious shift away from dance-oriented material, most (all, actually) of Double Youth’s tracks are steadfastly mid-tempo synth-and-drum-machine workouts, giving the album a cohesive feel throughout. The lack of dynamacy in tempo is also where the record’s shortcomings become apparent; Double Youth’s insistence to remain off the dance floor makes the album seriously drag about midway through. Still, Lange manages to create some worthwhile highlights; “I Krill You”, the album’s first and most obvious single with it’s gothic Prince-in-a-coma feel and machine gun rhythm track is a standout, while the second side’s “Queriendo” is a sleek and sexy slow jam. And although the ’80s influences are there (Echo and the Bunnymen come to mind), Double Youth’s material recalls more contemporary acts like the previously mentioned Prefuse 73, El Guincho, and Neon Indian reinforcing modern day electro-pop’s current and impressive staying power in underground scenes.
Double Youth, and Helado Negro’s music in general, however, is far sleepier and less hooky than any of the aforementioned artists, which may prevent Lange’s name from being mentioned in the same circles as today’s indie-tronica heroes. But if you are already a fan of Helado Negro’s brand of drowsy downtempo, then you will find plenty to enjoy here, as Lange continue to adds to his already sizeable and solid catalog. » – Casey Hardmeyer