Helado Negro, Metal Tongues, Sonorama | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Helado Negro

Helado Negro

Ryan Dickie

Helado Negro, Metal Tongues, Sonorama 

When: Thu., Oct. 20, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: $14, $12 in advance
On his new album Private Energy (Asthmatic Kitty), Helado Negro—the dreamiest, most pop-oriented project from Roberto Carlos Lange, who works under numerous guises—creates a lush, soothing landscape of sounds. Meticulously arranged by former Chicagoan Jason Ajemian and performed by a large group of strong New York musicians, the nimble record features a compressed orchestral richness dominated by synthesizer lines and swells: the horns that open “Obra Dos,” for example, paint a muted pastel smear, fading away just as suddenly as they appear to make way for a groove from the drums and bass synth. Lange wrote the album in 2014, troubled by the murder of Michael Brown and the country’s growing racial unrest, and on some of the English-language tunes he yearns for healing while taking stock in his Latinx identity. The single “Young, Latin & Proud” offers a holistic embrace of his ethnicity that caresses rather than hectors, while “It’s My Brown Skin” neatly builds solidarity with other people of color while also taking pride in his own background. Throughout the record, most of which is sung in Spanish, Lange sings with an intimate warmth, and even when a cut drives hard, the results feel gentle. I imagine the new songs will sound quite different tonight, as he appears with a string quartet that includes Chicago cellist Tomeka Reid.
— Peter Margasak



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