By Nathan Reese
Roberto Carlos Lange (a.k.a. Helado Negro) has been one of the most consistently underrated producers around for about the last five years, but you’d be forgiven if his tunes have flown under your radar. So the fact that his latest album, Double Youth, is getting some much-deserved love is pretty fantastic for him, and really great for fans of lush electronic pop. They say that if you keep doing something good for long enough people are bound to catch on.
But for those uninitiated to Lange’s silky croon, Helado Negro was raised by Ecuadorian parents in Miami before making his way to Brooklyn. Along the way he’s produced albums for guys like Prefuse 73 and authored a wonderful series of experimental EPs under the Island Universe banner. “Invisible Heartbeat,” though, is a gorgeous standout from the Double Youth, and couldn’t be a better entry point to Lange’s work. Sung in Spanish (he switches between English and Spanish on the album), the song floats along like a warm, tropical breeze. (Arthur Russell comparisons have been made, and they are apt.) As for the video, it features a dapperly-clad Lange surrounded by psychedelic patterns that pop and swirl, before he gets a wonderfully unusual makeover. Usually I’m all for abandoning “chill” and “vibes” from the music writing lexicon, but what other words could capture the magic happening here?
“The song came from me meeting my niece for the first time and how she would just dance and laugh when a song would come on. It’s maybe me pleading with myself “tenemos todo aqui” children have it all right when they are born and then they are conformed to fit into something we’ve made up.
It’s always hard to find the connection between idealistic living and realistic obligations. There are literal translations of this with the video, the kids painting my face (referencing the album cover), the old woman pulling me to this more natural progression, the constant pull of time. There was also a social aspect of this for me. I’m dressed in a tuxedo shirt and pants. It’s this generic symbol of a presentable something or someone. It’s a casual state, it might come across as this guy who just got back from a party but we approached it as I just got back from this job where that’s what I have to do to survive then I fall into my own reality. The reality of being me and doing what I do.
Maybe it’s just about dying and reincarnation.”