Asthmatic Kitty, USA
by Adrian Mata Anaya
At this juncture in time, there is an overlapping presence of traditional instruments and electronic production tools. Yet, only a few folk artists play around in the surmounting pile of electronic gadgetry. During this embargo, we find an exception and a pioneer in Roberto Carlos Lange as Helado Negro. While previous work, Awe Oak, introduced an already dynamic Latin American folk artist, Canta Lechuza audaciously navigates through a new fertile territory in the same Latin folk vehicle, now powered by electronic energy.
Canta Lechuza is a digital time-lapse photograph of the surrounding natural environment, which was taken during Lange’s month-long residence in Connecticut. While Lange actively processes his surrounding space and its organic life, he anachronistically places sound sculptures to visualize anatomical and atomic structures of nature. To do so, mischievously naïve bass lines are placed to elevate jazz-like improvisations of organic computer noises, as found in “Lechugilla.” In a similar fashion to sonar, oscilloscope frequencies bounce off trees establishing spatial dimensions. Climate is quickly actualized by freezing and crisp resonance in opening track, “Globitos.”
By now, readers of Club Fonograma might be keenly aware of Lange's exploits in projects such as ROM, Savath y Savalas, and Epstein. Lange proves that his scope expands beyond these creative endeavors through his powerful ability to reference outside of himself. Appropriating the ocean wave distortions of chillwave, “Regresa” introduces a snowstorm of distortion and feedback. Typical of Wham City’s Future Islands, “2º Dia” rehashes emotional scars with its use of '80s-throwback guitar strumming. In the record’s most impressive display of music knowledge, “Calculas” is an assembly line of sacrifices back to space funk, future bass, and Los Angeles beat makers.
Given that this record was produced in a moment of meditation for Lange, Canta Lechuza features a series of techniques to prevent overstimulation brought on by outside influences (listed above). Each track designates a few quiet harmonic elements to provide breathing room before a casual dance rhythm is introduced. Every accentuated crescendo is consistently dampened with an efficient perdendo. The same treatment is given to Lange’s vocals. While Lange’s love letters (or vague text messages given that this is an electronic record) are sung aloud in a crooning fashion, his voice is often matted as sotto voce, made to pose as a chorus or even an owl singing.
Before Canta Lechuza was released, Helado Negro produced a short record entitled Pasajero. The album could have easily been mistaken for being produced in Connecticut, completely consumable by Club Fonograma readers, and absolutely placed on our blog’s virtual wall of destacados. With the utmost grace and bravery, Helado Negro has recycled a delightful short album and remolded it into a record that is simply beyond our time. As the official mark of creative excellence, Carlos Reyes put it best when he simply told me, “Helado Negro is very Avant.”