As Helado Negro, Brooklyn-via-Florida’s Roberto Carlos Lange has spent more than a decade refining an expansive sound somewhere between synth-folk and alternative pop. With songs in English, Spanish and sometimes both, the Ecuadorian-American fuses deeply, delicately textured acoustic and electronic instrumentation with intimate lyricism and a charmingly saccharine falsetto. Whether he sings to interrogate his own identity or simply paint a picture of life in all its vivid volumes, he always seems to unearth beauty, no matter how deep it may be buried.
Titled after an expression from Laraaji, a meditative new age artist he admires, new album Far In sees Lange at his most nebulous, taking his cosmic sound to constellations within. For every track like Gemini and Leo, the celebratory funk-tinged lead single addressed to his partner, or Telescope, a regretful letter to his mother apologising for not calling enough, there are songs like Aureole and Outside the Outside that echo half-moments and clouded memories. Love is the common thread throughout: love for people, for loved ones; for places, such as the desert surrounding Marfa, Texas, where he found himself living through lockdown; for eras, such as the nostalgic 80s streak running through the record’s irresistible bass lines.
Lange’s compositions swell and shrink just as Saturday night antics seamlessly turn into snoozy Sunday mornings. His synths are omnipresent yet feel sparingly used, coloured by breathtaking string arrangements, playfully light drums, steel pans, sax, vibraphone and his own intoxicating voice. The culmination is a collection of quietly shimmering songs that demand to be played loud.